Hino XL Series truck with Toyota’s fuel-cell technology coming soon

Toyota does not have a pure battery electric vehicle in its line up just yet, but the Japanese automaker offers hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell vehicles. In fact, they’re one of the few manufacturers that offer hydrogen-powered vehicles on the market today along with Honda and Hyundai.

Now seems Toyota’s fuel cell technology won’t be limited to just passenger vehicles anymore. They will be bringing their zero-emissions powertrain to the commercial vehicle manufacturer that they own: Hino.

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Hino USA have announced to jointly develop a Class 8 fuel cell electric truck (FCET) for the North American market. The FCET will be based on the new Hino XL Series with the initial “demonstration vehicle” scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2021. Details and specs about the production model FCET are not clear yet. But, expect more information to be made available at a later date.

Now, this won’t be the first time the Japanese automaker has tinkered with the idea of a fuel cell electric truck. Nearly two years ago, they introduced Project Portal 2.0 – a prototype hydrogen fuel cell truck. It has over 670 horsepower and 1800 Nm torque that could handle 40 tons (36,287 kg). With two hydrogen fuel cell stacks from the Mirai and a 12kWh battery, it could go over 483 km. Better yet, there are no harmful emissions as its only byproduct would be water.

“A fuel cell-powered version of the Hino XL Series is a win-win for both customers and the community. It will be quiet, smooth, and powerful while emitting nothing but water,” said Tak Yokoo, senior executive engineer, Toyota Research and Development. “Toyota’s twenty-plus years of fuel cell technology combined with Hino’s heavy-duty truck experience will create an innovative and capable product.”

It seems and more automakers are jumping into the fuel cell trucks. Honda partnered with Isuzu to develop its own FCET earlier this year. Meanwhile, Hyundai gave a glimpse of its own FCET with the Xcient.

Who will come out on top? We don't know but it is exciting to see what all the FCET manufacturers will have to offer. It also means that diesel could no longer the preferred choice for heavy-duty trucks in the near future.