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Act EXPO kicks off with unveiling of Toyota and Kenworth fuel cell electric trucks

The Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) EXPO kicked off today with a pre-show unveiling of the first jointly developed fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks from Toyota (NYSE: TM) and Kenworth (NASDAQ:PCAR).

During a press event held at the Port of Los Angeles, company executives, flanked by public officials, reiterated an earlier pledge to deploy 10 trucks as part of the Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities Project (ZANZEFF), a broad-based initiative aimed at promoting the use of fuel cell-electric trucks, clean cargo handling equipment and fueling infrastructure.

“Toyota is committed to fuel cell-electric technology as a powertrain for the future because it’s a clean, scalable platform that can meet a broad range of mobility needs with zero emissions,” said Toyota’s Bob Carter, executive vice president for automotive operations. “The ZANZEFF collaboration and the innovative ‘Shore-to Store’ project allow us to move heavy-duty truck fuel cell-electric technology towards commercialization.”

Kenworth and Toyota have a history of producing hydrogen fuel cell truck prototypes. Toyota built two trucks from Kenworth glider kits through its Project Portal fuel cell truck program. Kenworth designed a truck using hydrogen fuel cell technology from a different supplier.

The latest collaborative version expands on the Project Portal concept trucks utilizing Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology. The truck has an estimated range of more than 300 miles, twice that of a typical drayage truck’s average daily duty cycle.

Drayage trucks transport goods short distances, often from an ocean port to a rail ramp, warehouse or other destination.

The trucks will begin operations sometime next fall. They will be used by Toyota, UPS, Total Transportation Services Inc. and Southern Counties Express.

Funding for the joint effort comes from a $41 million ZANZEFF grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board, along with matching funds from the project partners. The grant is part of a state program funneling cap-and-trade monies into emissions reduction projects and is expected to help slash over 500 tons of greenhouse gases from port operations.

“The performance of the 10 Kenworth Class 8 trucks being developed under this program – the first of which debuted today – is targeted to meet or exceed that of a diesel-powered truck, while producing water as the only emissions byproduct,” said Mike Dozier, general manager of Kenworth Truck Company and PACCAR vice president.

In addition to the fuel cell-electric trucks, the Port project includes two new hydrogen fueling stations, to be developed by Shell. The two new stations will join three additional stations located at Toyota’s Long Beach Logistics Services and Gardena R&D facilities.

The Port is also expanding the use of zero-emissions technology in cargo terminals and warehouses, including the first two zero-emissions yard tractors to be operated at the Port of Hueneme, as well as the expanded use of zero-emissions forklifts at Toyota’s port warehouse.

Hydrogen-electric trucks have been getting a great deal of press lately. The unveiling of the Kenworth Toyota model comes one week after Nikola Motor Company officially debuted the Nikola Two and Nikola Tre hydrogen-electric tractors. During that event, CEO Trevor Milton made note of the Toyota and Kenworth models, although he was careful to add that Nikola was the first to pursue a hydrogen truck vision.

The Port of Los Angeles has a long way to go in the effort to transition trucking to zero emission models. Over 16,000 trucks serve the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complexes. That number that is estimated to grow to 32,000 by 2030. Currently, more than 43,000 drayage trucks are in operation at ports across the United States.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected]