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Watch Toyota’s Hydrogen-Powered Truck Win a Drag Race Against A Diesel Semi

Project Portal could foreshadow the future of long hauls.

New research in alternative fuels reach far beyond personal transportation. They’re being put to the test in multiple forms, including long-haul cargo operations like you see here, making one of the nation’s leading industries more efficient and effectively quicker as well. In the case of Toyota’s Project Portal semi, two hydrogen fuel cells and electric motors are combined to make for cleaner-running trucks and less traffic congestion thanks to speedier takeoffs, making it a win-win. Watch as this video demonstrates the latter with the Toyota truck out-gunning the diesel example from a stop.

Diesel engines are most notably valued for their torque—semis have used them for generations as they make heaps of power down low, helping them to pull heavy loads across the country with plenty of reliability to boot. The only thing that beats out a well-sorted compression-ignition engine in pound-feet is a high-power electric motor, and that’s the case that we see here. 

Toyota’s Project Portal is a mountain of twist producing 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque. On top of that, it doesn’t require a transmission—instead, it has a ton of ratios designed to keep the engine in its power band, meaning easier hauling for longer periods of time. It has one fixed ratio, 15.5:1, that allows the truck to pull up to 80,000 pounds at interstate speeds—an especially impressive figure for a previously unused alternative. 

That said, hydrogen-electric hybrids may not be the answer for trucking operations just yet. They’re extremely complex compared to the plug-and-play diesel applications as the hydrogen fuel cell acts as a generator for the electric motors, incorporating a list of moving parts that complicate the system. Along with that, America lacks the hydrogen fueling infrastructure that’s needed to keep these trucks going from coast to coast, making for an obstacle that’s more than just mechanical.

Watch here as the Toyota rockets off in comparison to the traditional diesel semi. What do you think will be the future of trucking?