Toyota Motor Corp. and three major convenience store operators said Tuesday they will carry out trials of fuel-cell electric delivery trucks in 2021.
Fuel-cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity and do not emit carbon dioxide. The envisioned tests by Toyota, its subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd. and the convenience store operators — Seven-Eleven Japan Co., FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc. — will use light-duty trucks with a maximum payload of 3 tons being developed by the two automakers.
The five companies plan to examine whether the use of such light-duty trucks is practical and viable for transporting merchandise between distribution centers and convenience stores. They will also identify challenges in cost efficiency and establishing the necessary infrastructure.
A sufficient cruising range, load capacity and fast refueling are among the major requirements for delivery trucks that transport products, including precooked meals, to multiple convenience stores. Toyota and Hino are aiming for a cruising range of about 400 kilometers on one tank of hydrogen.
Despite their appeal as a green alternative to conventional gasoline cars, fuel cell vehicles still face infrastructure and other technical hurdles, including establishing compressed hydrogen refueling stations. Toyota, which in 2014 rolled out the world's first mass-produced FCV, the Mirai, is among nearly 90 companies that set up an association on Monday to promote greater use of hydrogen in Japan.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said Japan will achieve carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon emissions, by 2050.