Toyota turns to industrial vehicles to spur hydrogen fuel cell development

Toyota turns to industrial vehicles to spur hydrogen fuel cell development

In order to spur hydrogen vehicle and infrastructure development, Toyota is turning to a fleet of fuel cell forklifts.

Though Toyota has been advocating hydrogen-powered vehicles, the technology is still moving too slowly for the company’s tastes. It’s a classic chicken or egg scenario, in which the vehicles can’t proliferate because of the lack of infrastructure, but the infrastructure is too expensive to build because there’s not enough vehicle using them.

Toyota will attempt to give the alternative energy source another jumpstart by installing small communities of fuel cell workhorses at key locations. Later this year, hydrogen fuel cell forklifts will begin rolling out at the Tokyo Bay waterfront, where they’ll be used to haul bulk food and beverage loads around the wholesale market.

The hydrogen fuel would be generated by wind to keep carbon emissions at a minimum. Fuel cell forklifts can also be filled up in three minutes, rather than the hours needed for a batter-powered equivalent.

Toyota sees airports and other industrial areas as venues where small communities of fuel cell vehicles could be beneficial. As reported by Automotive News, Toyota senior manager in charge of the company’s Business Development Group Shigeki Tomoyama estimates that there could be as many as 100,000 fuel cell-powered industrial vehicles in use by 2030, which will lower the cost of fuel cell components. “Fuel cell [passenger] vehicles alone can’t stimulate the market,” Tomoyama said at the forklift program’s launch, “That’s why we need to expand to industrial use.”

As it happens, Toyota Group is also the world’s largest manufacturer of forklifts.

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