Japanese automaker Toyota announced plans to build a fleet of heavy-duty, zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell trucks. If Toyota does go forward with the concept, this would be the most powerful hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on the market. The truck would generate more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12 kWh battery. Combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds, and estimated driving range is more than 200 miles per fillup, under normal trucking operations. Nikola Motor Company recently revealed its Class 8 truck that’s powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The US startup claims its H2-powered truck will have an operational range of as much as 1,200 miles when it’s released in 2020.
China is forcing Toyota to go electric. Until recently, Toyota was one of the auto industry’s major hold-outs against full electrification, and planned to turn to hydrogen as a mainstream alternative to gasoline-fueled cars. Indeed, the Japanese government is on a course to develop a hydrogen economy. However, these plans have been derailed by new automobile policies in China – the world’s largest auto market and one where tough environmental policies are pushing for clean emission cars have challenged global automakers. Current rules require 8% of automakers’ sales to be battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by next year, rising to 10% in 2019 and 12% in 2020. Toyota is particularly exercised by China’s proposal to categorize conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, as gasoline-fueled cars. “Those mandates are tough to the point it could wreck our fundamental business case,” said a Toyota executive. “The Prius and other hybrid cars are central to our green car strategy. But now we have no choice but to get over our EV allergy and come up with an electric car.” At the Shanghai auto show last week the Japanese firm said it would start selling plug-in electric hybrid cars in China next year, and aimed to sell an all-electric battery car in China, but gave no time frame.
Retail giant Amazon announced it will be bringing new generation zero-emission, hydrogen-powered electric forklifts and other equipment to its warehouse centers. Saving time in filling orders is a huge cost saving for the company and, unlike batteries, fuel cell forklifts can be fueled up in a matter of minutes and don’t take up storage space.
Research and Markets has a new report that looks at the global fuel cell light vehicle market out to 2032. The focus is on light vehicles, which includes cars, minivans and small trucks. 2,500 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were sold or leased worldwide in 2016, representing a three-fold increase compared to 2015. The authors project that over 22 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be sold or leased worldwide by 2032. That’s a 9000% increase over today. These sales will generate collective revenues upwards of $1.1 trillion for the auto industry by 2032. Information Trends believes that by 2050, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will become the fastest growing segment of the global automobile market. That source predicts that by 2020, sufficient hydrogen filling infrastructures would be in place in several regions of the world, giving an initial boost to the market for fuel cell vehicles.
The city of Vancouver, Canada is down to its last gasoline station in the city’s core and will likely become the first Canadian city without a gas station in its downtown. As in most cities, the value of the land in the core is more valuable for highrise development than pumping gas and more and more stations in these areas are disappearing.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has launched a new car sharing service in the US city of San Francisco. Called Gig, the service lets users drive a car one-way, then park it in any parking spot available. An app locates an available car, which is unlocked with the user’s phone or RFID membership card. Membership with the AAA is not required to use the app. All Gig cars are hybrid-electric Toyota Priuses. Drivers do not have to return the vehicle to the pickup location. Rather, AAA has an agreement with local governments in the San Francisco Bay area that its 250 Gig cars can be left in nearly any legal parking space. Mike Hetke, executive vice president of the AAA said:
“Unlike traditional station-based models where you go out shopping for the day and you’re paying for the car while you’re not using it, while it’s sitting there parked, with the one-way model, you can take a car, drive to where you’re going, end your trip, and not have to pay for a vehicle while you’re doing whatever you’re doing. And then grab a different car to drive back home. The service is also cheaper than ride-sharing with a service like Lyft or Uber, because you’re doing the driving yourself. ”