Isuzu, along with rival Hino, through its parent company, Toyota, and a company called Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corporation (CJPT), have announced  that they will jointly plan and develop light-duty fuel cell  electric trucks for the mass-market.The Isuzu/Hino/Toyota/CJPT JV is  the most significant  vote of confidence in hydrogen fuel cell  technology in light duty urban trucks so far.

The announcement is another fascinating insight into the multiple zero emission philosophies that are propagating across the commercial vehicle industry, which has seen some OEMs betting on battery electric, others on hydrogen fuel cell power and still others planning for hydrogen FCEVs for heavy duty/long distance operations and battery electric for light duty urban operations.

The joint initiative is expected to contribute to the ‘realisation of what the companies call ‘a hydrogen society’, as well as targeting carbon neutrality by ‘expanding the options available for customer use and increasing the demand for hydrogen’.

The companies say they will also promote the introduction of fuel cell electric trucks to the market along with their widespread use.

The joint venture companies say that on the road to carbon neutrality there are various powertrains options that will meet different customers’ demands, and that these will include hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles, and that each will rely on the energy conditions in different countries and regions and how customers use their vehicles.

The joint statement  announcing the tie up  acknowledged  that light-duty trucks are often used for distribution  work  to supermarkets and convenience stores that support people’s daily lives., and that in addition to being equipped with refrigeration and freezing functions, they are also required to drive long distances over extended hours to perform multiple delivery operations in one day, and must also meet requirements such as fast refueling capability.

“The use of fuel cell technology, which runs on high energy density hydrogen and has zero CO2 emissions while driving, is considered effective under such operating conditions,” the statement said.

According to the announcement CJPT will be responsible for planning the jointly developed mass-market light-duty fuel cell electric trucks.

“The four companies will mobilise their combined knowledge including the truck technology that Isuzu and Hino have accumulated over the years as well as Toyota’s fuel cell technology,  in pursuit of products that meet the performance and conditions required for light-duty trucks,” the statement said.

The announcement says that the fuel cell light duty truck technology will be introduced to the market  from  January next year and  will used by the partners at actual distribution sites in Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo social implementation projects in Japan.

“In this way, the companies will promote sustainable and practical initiatives toward the widespread use of light-duty fuel cell electric trucks and hydrogen, while also responding to customer needs at a high level,” the statement said.