Hino, Toyota developing fuel cell-electric tractor

October 6, 2020

Tom Berg

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A heavy fuel cell-electric tractor is on the way from Hino Trucks and Toyota Motor North America, which jointly announced the development yesterday.

The tractor, based on Hino’s XL8 chassis, should be ready for introduction in the first half of 2021, said Glenn Ellis, Hino vice president for sales and customer experience, and Takehito Yokoo, senior executive engineer in Toyota’s advanced fuel cell R&D.

The introduction of the fuel cell-electric tractor “is soon for us,” Yokoo said, “but not soon enough for the market. The market needs it now.”

Hino, Toyota developing fuel cell-electric tractor
Using a Toyota fuel cell to generate electricity, a Hino XL-8 tractor is expected to be ready for introduction in the first half of 2021, the two companies announced. Its powertrain will be similar to a Hino heavy truck for Japan. Toyota owns Hino in Japan. (Photo courtesy Toyota Motor North America)

Toyota has been working on fuel cells for more than 20 years and recently sold about 3,000 fuel cell-electric cars in Asia. It has provided hydrogen fuel cells to Kenworth, which is using them in a T680 drayage tractor now being tested in Southern California.

Fuel cells generate electricity to run an electric drivetrain, so they provide more range than battery-electric vehicles. Toyota is using hydrogen as fuel for the cell, so an on-board hydrogen supply needs to be replenished like diesel fuel in today’s trucks.

The Hino fuel cell-electric tractor will “deliver exceptional capability without harmful emissions,” Hino said in a statement. “This collaboration expands upon the existing effort to develop a 25-ton FCET (fuel cell-electric truck) for the Japanese market, which was announced earlier this year.

Ellis and Yokoo gave no details on the upcoming tandem-axle tractor’s power and torque outputs or its weight rating. But Hino has a Class 4 battery-electric truck now for sale, and two battery-electric trucks and at least one Class 7 tractor now running in California under its Project Z. The heavier trucks are based on XL7 chassis. They are described in this videoLL

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Tom Berg

Tom Berg worked his way through college by driving trucks. Since 1978, he’s been writing about trucks and trucking. He holds a Class A commercial driver’s license and drives trucks as part of story research. While semi-retired, Berg still writes about semis as a contributing editor at Land Line.