Toyota and Hino  have announced they are collaborating with a number of major convenience store operators to jointly consider introducing light-duty fuel cell electric trucks, and to ‘establish an environment for its widespread use in the future’, targeting the realisation of a sustainable society that takes into account global warming and energy diversification.

Toyota and Hino are collaborating  with Seven-Eleven Japan, FamilyMart and Lawson, Inc. to conduct a trial operation of light-duty FCETs up to three tonnes which will be jointly developed by Toyota and Hino, to verify practicality and convenience as part of the considerations for roll out of the vehicles.

In the evaluation of the operations, Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart, and Lawson will verify delivery by light-duty FCETs in logistics between multiple distribution centres and stores, to see whether or not trials should continue and are viable past 2022 and beyond

Following this they will work to identify key issues relating to convenience, such as placement of hydrogen stations, hydrogen supply, filling capability, and operating hours, as well as the purchase of vehicles and cost of hydrogen fuel.

The collaboration will look at improvements  and addressing the key issues in collaboration with national and local authorities, and hydrogen station operators, to advance the necessary support and systems required to build effective system to reduce CO2 emissions through the future widespread use of FCETs.

Truck operations underpin the daily logistics of convenience stores that support people’s daily lives. In particular, delivery trucks that distribute products such as pre-packed meals handle multiple delivery operations in one day, and are required to drive long distances over extended hours.

Fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen, which has a higher energy density, are considered effective under such operating conditions that require them to have sufficient cruising range and load capacity as well as fast refueling capability. The cruising range for light-duty FCETs developed by Toyota and Hino will be set at approximately 400 km, aiming to meet high standards in both environmental performance and transport efficiency expected as a commercial vehicle.

To achieve growth in demand for hydrogen, hopes are held for the introduction of fuel cell commercial vehicles, such as trucks and buses, that use more hydrogen compared with passenger vehicles. With commercial vehicles, depending upon their intended use, it is also possible to know the driving range and to plan operations systematically, including handling of refuelling with hydrogen.

But issues still remain for their full-scale introduction, including reduction of vehicle price and the cost of hydrogen, and improvement of the convenience of hydrogen stations.

The five companies are making efforts to promote the establishment of an environment for the popularisation of fuel cell vehicles, not only of light-duty trucks, but also of commercial and passenger vehicles.