Toyota's Experimental Fuel-Cell Big Rig Does 0-60 Quicker Than a BMW 2002




From Road & Track

Toyota has secretly been working on an ambitious project to build a zero-emission Class 8 truck to replace diesel-powered big-rigs. Dubbed "Project Portal," the experiment fits a fuel cell drivetrain derived from Toyota production cars into a modified Kenworth T660 chassis to test hydrogen's viability in heavy-duty applications.

In the process, Toyota made a high performance screamer that blows away the diesel-powered competition.

John O'Dell over at Trucks.com has the exclusive, behind-the-scenes story of Toyota's quest to build a fuel cell big-rig. The whole thing is an excellent read, revealing how Toyota managed to build this fuel cell-powered rig in roughly seven months, using two fuel cell stacks sourced from the production Toyota Mirai to power a custom-designed electric motor cranking out 670 horsepower and 1325 lb-ft of torque.

But it's the truck's performance that really blew our minds. Trucks.com reports that the 21,970-lb. Project Portal truck can accelerate from 25 to 55 miles per hour in just 6.3 seconds. Even better, a Toyota spokesperson tells Road & Track that the unladen rig can sprint from a stop to 60 mph in roughly 10 seconds.

That means the Toyota big rig would run neck-and-neck in a stoplight drag race against a bone-stock 1970 BMW 2002-though the more powerful 2002 tii, with its 9.0-second 0-60, would trounce the Class 8 truck.

Still, that's outrageous acceleration from a vehicle that tips the scales at nearly 11 tons before you hitch up the trailer. And as Toyota illustrates with video evidence, it absolutely runs away from a conventional big-rig pulling an identical, empty trailer from a standing start.

Toyota announced today that the Project Portal big rig will take part in a feasibility study coordinated with the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and the Port of Los Angeles. The zero-emissions truck will be used to conduct "port drayage," or short-distance cargo hauling, testing the rig's durability and performance while hauling nearly 60,000 lbs of cargo. Toyota says that, under these use conditions, the rig has an estimated driving range of more than 200 miles per fill-up, consuming 40 kilograms of compressed hydrogen in the process.

To learn more about Project Portal, and how Toyota hopes this experiment can help solve the infrastructure and refueling challenges that currently face hydrogen-powered fuel cells, check out the full report over at Trucks.com. And the next time someone waxes rhapsodic about the original BMW 2002, remind them that modern technology means a zero-emissions big-rig can match it in acceleration.

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