SAN PEDRO, California — A small crowd of local politicians, executives, and reporters is gathered under a white tent in a parking lot at the Port of Los Angeles. Toyota has invited them here for “a glimpse into the future of fuel cell technology.”
The USS Iowa battleship, now a museum, sits on display a few hundred feet away in the former home of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific battle fleet. It easily commands our attention with its big guns, which seem to take aim and point towards the latest future technology pitch.
Two new hydrogen-fuel-cell powered Toyota Mirais are parked next to the podium, and a big blue semi truck faces off with the battleship.
Attached to the big rig is a white enclosed cargo space that reads “Creating a Zero-Emissions World: Powered by Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology” in large block letters.
Powering the truck is Toyota’s promised glimpse: Project Portal, a hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy-duty truck use.
Unlike the rigs that are plentiful in and around the busy port, this one has no exhaust stack to roll coal into the crisp, harbor air. Instead, the fully functioning heavy-duty truck emits nothing but water vapor.
Toyota claims that its new concept truck generates over 670 horsepower and 1,325 lb-ft of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a small 12-kWh battery.
Gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds and driving range is estimated at over 200 miles per fill under normal Class 8 load operations, according to the automaker, and refueling takes about 20 minutes.
“As they did with the Prius and the Mirai, Toyota is taking a leap into the future of technology. By bringing this heavy duty, zero emission hydrogen fuel cell proof of concept truck to the Port, Toyota has planted a flag that we hope many others will follow,” Mary D. Nichols, California Air Resources Board chair, tells us while showing off her Toyota Mirai jacket.
“CARB will be following the progress of this feasibility study with interest, as we look to develop the best mix of regulations and incentives to rapidly expand the market for the cleanest, most efficient big trucks to meet the need for dramatic change in the freight sector.”
The Project Portal platform is designed to study the performance required to support moving goods from a ship into a warehouse.
Aside from the concept truck, Toyota is also installing a temporary fueling station that will be located closer to the dock. Testing will begin this summer.