Toyota And Hino USA Developing Futuristic Hydrogen-Powered Semi-Truck

Semi-trucks: they're loud, slow and an absolute pollution nightmare. Well, maybe not for much longer, now that Toyota has unveiled its plans for a new hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric semi-truck. The world's largest car manufacturer announced on Monday that it is partnering with Hino USA to develop a new sustainable semi-truck specifically for the North American market.

The truck is officially called the 'Class 8 fuel-cell electric truck', and will be based on the existing Hino XL series and powered by Toyota's own fuel-cell technology. The project is still in the design phase, but the company hopes to have a demonstration version of the vehicle ready to unveil to audiences early next year. In a statement, Toyota said the semi-trucks would 'deliver exceptional capability without harmful emission', adding that the plans would build on an existing project to deliver a similar fuel-cell driven truck to the Japanese market.

As industry observers have noted, the announcement is not exactly heavy on detail, so we'll have to use our imaginations as to what exactly these semi-trucks could look like. However, CNET reports that there will likely be a fair few similarities with Toyota's 2018 'Project Portal 2.0', which had 670+ horsepower, a 300-mile range, and could carry up to 80,000 pounds of cargo. Tak Yokoo, a senior executive engineer at Toyota, said, '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.' Toyota has been somewhat of an outlier when it comes to the development of sustainable vehicles; it's one of the few major companies that continue to invest heavily in hydrogen-powered fuel cells, with most other car manufacturers relying on tried-and-tested battery-powered electric vehicles. The company has already launched fuel-cell powered buses in Japan, and plans to roll out 100 of them to provide shuttle transport for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of a scandal involving the electric truck start-up Nikola, whose chairman was recently forced to step down over claims he misled investors about the company's development of its own fuel cell truck. 

And while Toyota's plans have almost certainly been in motion for some time now, the timing of this launch suggests that when it comes to electric trucks, it is looking to put itself firmly in the driver's seat.

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