Toyota “hydrogen headquarters” will develop US fuel-cell products

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Toyota has big hopes for hydrogen, and it’s backing that up with a braintrust. The automaker announced Wednesday that it’s giving its research and development office in Gardena, California, a new name and focus. Set to be called Toyota’s North American Hydrogen Headquarters, the facility will, from here on, lead efforts on this continent “to research, develop, commercialize, and sell fuel cell and hydrogen-related products.”

The U.S. offices will spearhead localized hydrogen tech and products for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, stationary power generation, port vehicles, and more, Toyota says. It already has Toyota’s largest dynamometer, a scalable test bench, and a hydrogen fueling station good for both types of vehicles. 

Toyota modular fuel-cell system

Toyota megawatt hydrogen fuel-cell station research project

Toyota megawatt hydrogen fuel-cell station research project

Toyota modular fuel-cell system

Toyota modular fuel-cell system

On a global basis, Toyota has already suggested its modular fuel-cell solutions might be good for buses, trains, ships, and stationary generators, so the facility’s work will reach far beyond Toyota dealerships.

For the Hydrogen HQ, Toyota has started building a flexible microgrid that will incorporate a 230-kw solar system, a 1-megawatt proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel-cell generator, a 325-kw solid oxide fuel-cell system, and a 500-kwh battery storage system. 

The North American hydrogen center follows a greater reorganization of the parent company’s hydrogen business in Japan, which pivoted to focus around what’s called a Hydrogen Factory, with an equivalent operation in Europe. Toyota says that the Hydrogen HQ will serve as an education center as well, with future tours.

Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks with Toyota hydrogen fuel-cell modules

Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks with Toyota hydrogen fuel-cell modules

Toyota’s fuel-cell development team helped develop the Toyota Mirai, which in its latest iteration Green Car Reports has called Toyota’s best-driving sedan. It also showed how hydrogen tech can be scaled up, with 10 proof-of-concept Kenworth Class 8 fuel-cell semis for heavy-duty applications that focused around LA port duty. 

Toyota is currently working toward Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks employing a Toyota fuel-cell powertrain kit and set for first deliveries later this year. That kit and the fuel-cell modules themselves are coming from Toyota’s Kentucky plant. Yes, that’s the same plant where a three-row battery-electric SUV will also be made starting next year. 

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