Toyota Performs Kaizen for Hydrogen-Powered Big Rig
Most of the time, unless you work at Toyota you don’t have the opportunity to see its vaunted kaizen in action. But its approach to continuous improvement is in full view now that it has unveiled the “Beta” version of the hydrogen-powered Class 8 truck, a Kenworth, that will be used in drayage applications at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The previous version of the Project Portal is now the “Alpha” truck, and since it went into operation moving cargo at the ports (a.k.a., “drayage”) in April 2017 it has racked up some 10,000 miles.
The Beta truck will go into operation in the fall.
Whereas the first version has a range capacity of some 200 miles, the new one has an estimated range of 300 miles.
Like the original hydrogen-powered truck, the Beta has a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 pounds, ~670 hp, and 1,325 lb-ft of torque.
And like the Alpha, the Beta uses two fuel cell stacks from two Toyota Mirai sedans and a 12-kWh battery. But what the Toyota engineers did was to optimize the wire harnesses, electronics, and other components such that there was a major weight reduction and overall improvements.
As Andrew Lund, chief engineer for the project, put it, “We needed to move beyond a proof of concept, which the first truck accomplished, to something that is not only better than the original but is also more commercially viable.”
Chrysler pioneered the modern-day minivan more than 30 years ago and has been refining and improving that type of vehicle ever since.
Mercedes has been putting diesels in vehicles since 1926. It has been offering them in the U.S. since 1949. And 2013 is seeing a range of offerings, including in its popular GLK SUV.
Making improvements to existing engines, as well as working toward something entirely different.