Kenworth, Toyota Partner to Develop Hydrogen-Electric Trucks


Kenworth Truck Co. and Toyota are collaborating to develop 10 hydrogen-electric tractors for drayage operations in the Los Angeles basin, the companies announced.

The zero-emissions trucks will be based on Kenworth’s T680 model and will utilize Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The project is part of a $41 million grant preliminarily awarded by the California Air Resources Board.

In recent years, Kenworth and Toyota independently produced hydrogen fuel cell truck prototypes. Toyota built two trucks from Kenworth glider kits through its Project Portal fuel cell truck program, while Kenworth showed a truck using hydrogen fuel cell technology from another supplier.

But now the companies will be combining their efforts.

“We’re taking some things that we learned with the Kenworth truck, a lot of things that Toyota has learned with their trucks, and we’re working together to build the next-gen trucks,” said Brian Lindgren, director of research and development at Kenworth.

The 10 hydrogen-electric trucks co-developed by Kenworth and Toyota will have a range 300 miles in typical drayage operations, according to the companies.

The vehicles will haul cargo in the Los Angeles basin and to inland California cities such as Ontario and San Bernardino.

In addition to the 10 trucks, the project will fund the development of hydrogen fueling infrastructure, including plans for two new fueling stations to be built by Shell Oil Products.

Rather than relying on heavy battery packs, hydrogen-electric trucks store energy as hydrogen and convert it into electricity to power the electric motor.

“We believe that carrying energy in the form of hydrogen makes more sense for Class 8 heavy-duty tractors than carrying it in batteries,” Lindgren said, citing the lower weight and shorter refueling time of a hydrogen-electric system compared with a pure battery-electric truck.

Andrew Lund, chief engineer for Toyota’s Project Portal, emphasized the environmental benefits that zero-emissions trucks could bring not only to Southern California, but the rest of North America as well.