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Can Toyota fuel cell technology superpower hydrogen logistics?

A new partnership between the automotive giant and VDL Groep could mark a major milestone in the journey to cleaner haulage in Europe.

Work is now underway to begin converting heavy-duty trucks to hydrogen fuel cell modules for use by Toyota Motor Europe’s (TME) partners in the logistics network. The programme represents the latest step in efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

Netherlands-based VDL Groep is carrying out the transition work, essentially upgrading heavy-goods vehicles to run on cleaner hydrogen power. As more of the fleet moves over to this energy source, the increased demand for larger volumes of hydrogen has the potential to drive greater investment and roll out of related infrastructure on key routes, helping wider efforts to reduce emissions in the haulage sector.

While doubts still exist over how practical non-diesel alternatives for freight, the system developed by Toyota offer a number of benefits that answer several questions. For example, lower overall weight allows for heavier payloads to be carried, while the refuelling time is comparable to that of a traditional engine. These factors alone make the design one of the leading options for cleaning up the road logistics industry. The firs hydrogen fuel cell truck will complete in summer, and assessments will then be made on the best way forward for Toyota’s logistics routes.

‘VDL Special Vehicles believes in a zero-emission future for medium and heavy-duty on and off-road equipment. We are therefore extremely proud to work with Toyota on this innovative technology project, which will allow us to expand our activities in hydrogen drivelines,’ said Hans Bekkers, Commercial Director at VDL Special Vehicles.

‘We are excited to begin this project with VDL Groep, as it will allow us to further decarbonise the long-haul transport of our components, vehicles, and service parts. Heavy-duty trucks will remain an important pillar in our multimodal strategy, and the introduction of zero-emission trucks, equipped with our Toyota fuel cell modules, will have a strong impact on the overall carbon reduction of our logistics,’ added Leon Van Der Merwe, Supply Chain Vice President at TME.

More on haulage, logistics and fuels:

Zero emissions heavy goods vehicle infrastructure ‘two decades behind cars’

Freight Innovation Fund: 9 projects delivering the future

£7m earmarked to decarbonise freight industry

Over £70m secured to develop clean transport technologies

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