Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. displayed a prototype of the industrys first fuel cell lift truck at ProMat 2007 show in early January. The prototype, called the Toyota FCHV-F, was developed by Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC).
Using hydrogen as its main power source, the Toyota FCHV-F produces electricity without combustion and generates zero carbon dioxide emissions, the company says. Overall operating costs are reduced due to lower fuel consumption, and it requires less maintenance than standard lift trucks.
Toyota says maintenance requirements are lower than electric lift trucks, whose batteries must be periodically charged, refilled with water and replaced. The fuel cell hybrid system ensures constant power delivery and performance, eliminating the reduction in voltage output that occurs as batteries discharge.
These and other features make fuel cell lift trucks suited for conditions found at large distribution centers, where lift trucks often are run for continual 24-hour shifts. Toyota says individual plants will be able to establish their own hydrogen fueling stations and achieve lower total logistics costs.
Toyota plans to continue to develop its fuel cell technology and bring a fuel cell lift truck to market in the next few years.