In an Australian first, Toyota Australia is partnering with a local government council within the City of Melbourne council for a real-world trial of zero CO2-emission hydrogen-electric vehicles.
Three Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs), the first of their kind to be driven by members of the public in Australia, will be provided to Hobson’s Bay City Council in Melbourne’s inner west for a 12-week trial. The trial will be the first of several trials run by Toyota Australia over the next three years. The company plans to loan the Mirai FCEVs to participating companies or organisations for up to 12-weeks at a time.
During the Hobson’s Bay City Council trial, the Mirais (Japanese for ‘future’) will be driven by council staff under a range of conditions and at different times of the day, just like any other vehicle. This will help the Council reduce its vehicle fleet emissions and reach its environmental target of zero CO2 by 2020.
Toyota Australia’s Manager of Advanced Technology Vehicles and Site Development, Matt MacLeod, said Toyota expects Australia will soon introduce Co2 emissions regulations and the trial will go a long way to normalising the new technology.
“Like most hydrogen powered vehicles, the Mirai isn’t currently available for sale in Australia, mainly because there isn’t existing hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to support it,” MacLeod added.
The trial FCEVs will be refuelled at a mobile hydrogen refueller based at Toyota’s former manufacturing site in nearby Altona – a 13-minute drive to Hobson’s Bay City Council.
Hobsons Bay City Council Mayor Angela Altair said, “One of the key priorities in the Hobsons Bay 2030 Community Vision is sustainable practices and growth through innovation, access to local jobs, technology and education. […] The significant emissions reductions we are generating by using the Mirais will helps us deliver on these strategic commitments, including our Corporate and Community Greenhouse Strategies and Integrated Transport Plan.”
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Forklift Trials
Melbourne is fast on its way to becoming Australia’s hydrogen hub, with two hydrogen fuel cell (FC) forklifts being trialled at Toyota Australia’s former manufacturing site in Altona. The Toyota Material Handling FC forklifts are the first to be used by Toyota outside of Japan.
Toyota Material Handling Australia’s General Manager of Corporate Compliance and Project Development, Bob Walmsley, said: “The forklifts have a much quicker refuelling time – they only take around three minutes to fill the hydrogen tank compared to eight hours to recharge a conventional battery,” Mr Walmsley said. “This means we can use these forklifts more often.”
Like the Mirai, the FC forklifts will be refuelled at Toyota’s mobile refueller at Altona.
On top of emitting zero CO2, Mr Walmsley said in the long run, the forklifts will also be very cost effective.
“When a sustainable energy source like solar, wind and water is used to produce the hydrogen, there is a high potential for energy cost savings,” he said.
“With conventional forklift special care is needed when charging and maintaining the battery, whereas a FC forklift is considered simpler when it comes to refuelling and scheduled maintenance.”
The forklifts will be shipped to Sydney next month to make an appearance at the official opening of the new Toyota Parts Centre in Kemp’s Creek in Western Sydney.