Toyota, VDL Groep test fuel cell technology in logistics operations

Toyota, VDL Groep test fuel cell technology in logistics operations

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By Christoph Hammerschmidt

On the road to climate neutrality, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) is teaming up with Dutch VDL Groep: Both companies intend to decarbonise logistics and freight transport using fuel cell technology. The emission-free heavy trucks, which are fuelled with hydrogen, make a further contribution to achieving CO2 neutrality by 2040.

VDL Groep will send the first hydrogen-powered fuel cell truck on the road as early as summer 2023 as part of the collaboration with Toyota. Other vehicles will follow successively from autumn onwards. They will be used on various routes in logistics transport for Toyota. The experience and findings will help to prove the suitability of fuel cell trucks for everyday use and consolidate their use.

“We are excited about this project with VDL Groep. It enables us to further decarbonise the long-haul transport of our components, vehicles and spare parts,” says Leon Van Der Merwe, Vice President Supply Chain at Toyota Motor Europe. “Heavy trucks remain an important pillar of our multimodal strategy. The introduction of zero-emission trucks equipped with our Toyota fuel cell modules has a major impact on the overall CO2 reduction of our logistics.”

In contrast to batteries of fully electric vehicles, the hydrogen systems of fuel cell trucks have a comparatively low mass. This offers advantages especially for trucks where heavy batteries would limit the payload. In addition, the trucks can be refuelled with hydrogen almost as quickly as with diesel – this reduces downtimes and improves utilisation.

Fuel cell trucks driving across Europe also play a key role in the expansion of the entire European hydrogen ecosystem: they support the decarbonisation of transport and the ecological energy transition in equal measure. In the process, the heavy commercial vehicles create a healthy supply and demand dynamic for the alternative energy carrier. Other vehicles that could use such hydrogen filling stations in the future also benefit from the necessary infrastructure that needs to be built along busy routes.

The propulsion technology known from the Toyota Mirai (fuel consumption according to WLTP: hydrogen combined 0.9-0.8 kg/100 km; electricity consumption combined 0 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined according to WLTP 0 g/km) can be used in many ways – even outside of passenger cars. In cooperation with various partners, Toyota is working on light and heavy commercial vehicles, boats, trains and buses to minimise their CO2 emissions. It can also be used as a mobile and permanently installed generator.

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