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UPS will start using Toyota's zero-emission hydrogen semi trucks

It's part of a greater collaboration with Toyota, Kenworth and Shell.

It'll be a weird (but welcome) future when semi trucks zip around town silently. 

Toyota's Project Portal, which brings its zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell tech to commercial trucks, has been graduating through various stages since the pilot program kicked off in 2017. Now, it's ready to put some of these trucks to work with other companies.

Toyota announced this week that it has entered the next stage of Project Portal. The automaker has unveiled the latest version of its hydrogen fuel-cell semi truck, which was developed jointly with truck manufacturer Kenworth. This next step will see 10 examples of this truck being used for several companies' drayage operations in the Los Angeles area. This latest swath of zero-emission trucks is expected to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Like previous iterations of Project Portal, the latest trucks rely on a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain, which takes compressed hydrogen gas and converts it to electricity, with the only byproduct being potable water. The fuel stacks, which are borrowed from the Mirai hydrogen car, combine with a battery to provide a range north of 300 miles

While that might not seem like all that much for a semi, it's important to note that drayage involves moving goods over short distances -- Toyota says this range is about twice the average distance a truck of this kind can expect to travel in a single day.

These 10 trucks will be split between a few different companies. Four will end up with Toyota Logistics Services, which will help move Toyota products around ports in LA and Long Beach. Three will go to UPS, two will end up with Total Transportation Services and one will be in the hands of Southern Counties Express. 

Toyota plans to further green up its logistics with more zero-emission tractors and forklifts, which are already in service. Shell has promised to add two large-capacity fueling stations in California that will combine with three current stations to offer even more places to fill up.

As much as we like to place the focus for zero-emission tech in passenger cars, logistics comprises a large chunk of emissions itself. With more than 43,000 diesel trucks in ports across the US, there's plenty of room to clean things up. Project Portal is just the start, too -- Toyota aims to completely eliminate carbon-dioxide emissions at its Port of Long Beach facility by 2050.

Whether it's hauling cars, packages or something else, Toyota and Kenworth's trucks will do it while emitting nothing more than water.