Toyota’s ‘Project Portal’ brings a hydrogen-powered big rig to L.A.

Toyota isn’t satisfied with making hydrogen fuel-cell cars. Last year, it announced plans to test fuel cells in commercial trucks, and now those hydrogen big rigs are about to get rolling.

The Japanese automaker is launching “Project Portal,” a test program for hydrogen fuel-cell trucks at the Port of Los Angeles. A prototype truck will begin testing there this summer, while Toyota, the Port, the California Energy Commission, and the California Air Resources Board evaluate both its environmental impact and possibilities for production.

The truck itself is powered by two fuel-cell stacks from Toyota Mirai sedans, plus a 12-kilowatt-hour battery pack. It boats 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque, allowing for a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 pounds. Range is 200 miles per fill up, which Toyota says is under the normal amount of mileage trucks operating at the Port of Los Angeles cover between refuelings.

California is the only state where Toyota sells the Mirai, because it is the only one with sufficient hydrogen fueling infrastructure. While Toyota recently announced a partnership with Shell to expand the number of stations, lack of places to refuel remains a major drawback for hydrogen cars. But commercial vehicles, like the Project Portal truck, that operate within a confined area may not have that issue, because they don’t stray too far from a single fueling station in normal operations.

That doesn’t cover long-distance trucking, but many others are trying. Nikola Motors unveiled a hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck called the Nikola One late last year, with promises to build an accompanying network of hydrogen stations. Tesla will unveil a battery-electric truck in September. Some Swedes have even experimented with stringing wires over highways to power electric trucks.

Commercial vehicles rack up much more mileage than the average passenger car every year, and big trucks like the ones Project Portal is intended to replace have terrible fuel economy. So converting these vehicles to zero-emission powertrains could have an outsize impact on air pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions.

Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Cars

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.