Automotive giant Toyota, along with three other partners, will work on the development of light-duty fuel cell electric trucks with a view to rolling them out in Japan next year.
In a statement Tuesday, Toyota said it would collaborate with Isuzu, Hino Motors and Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation on the project. Both Isuzu and Hino carried the same statement as Toyota on their respective websites.
One potential use case for the fuel cell vehicles could be in the supermarket and convenience store sector, where Toyota said light-duty trucks were “required to drive long distances over extended hours to perform multiple delivery operations in one day.”
The company also listed fast refueling as a requirement for vehicles operating in this segment.
“The use of FC [fuel cell] technology, which runs on high energy density hydrogen and has zero CO2 emissions while driving, is considered effective under such operating conditions,” it added.
According to the company, an introduction to the market is slated for after January 2023, with light duty fuel-cell trucks used at distribution sites in Fukushima Prefecture and other projects in Tokyo.
Hino Motors is part of the Toyota Group, while CJPT was established by Isuzu, Toyota and Hino in 2021.
Toyota started working on the development of fuel-cell vehicles — where hydrogen from a tank mixes with oxygen, producing electricity — back in 1992.
In 2014, it launched the Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell sedan. The business says its fuel cell vehicles emit “nothing but water from the tailpipe.”
Alongside the Mirai, Toyota has had a hand in the development of larger hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. These include a bus called the Sora and prototypes of heavy-duty trucks. Alongside fuel cells, Toyota is looking at using hydrogen in internal combustion engines.
Tuesday also saw Suzuki, Daihatsu, Toyota and CJPT announce plans to introduce battery electric mini-commercial vehicles to the market in the 2023 fiscal year.
“The mini-commercial van BEV [battery electric vehicle] developed by these four companies will be used by partners in social implementation projects in Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo,” the announcement said.
Daihatsu is a subsidiary of Toyota. As of March 31, 2022, Toyota had a 4.9% shareholding in Suzuki.
While Toyota is well known for its hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, it is also attempting to make headway in the increasingly competitive battery-electric market, where firms like Tesla and Volkswagen are jostling for position.
This has not been without its challenges. In June 2022, Toyota issued a safety recall for more than 2,000 of its all-electric SUV, the bZ4X.