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Toyota Revs Up Fuel Cell-Powered Forklifts

Toyota Motor Corp. has begun switching to fuel cell-powered forklifts at its facilities with the launch of two such vehicles at its Motomachi plant in Toyota City, where the carmaker builds its Mirai fuel cell car.
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Toyota Motor Corp. has begun switching to fuel cell-powered forklifts at its facilities with the launch of two such vehicles at its Motomachi plant in Toyota City, where the carmaker builds its Mirai fuel cell car.

Next year Toyota plans to install 20 more of the hydrogen-fueled forklifts at various global facilities. The company aims to have as many as 180 units in operation by 2020.

Toyota says the Motomachi forklifts, which were built by the carmaker’s Toyota Industries Corp. affiliate, can be refueled in about three minutes. The vehicles also can supply electricity back to the facility if needed during an emergency, the company notes.

The forklifts support the 2050 Environmental Challenge Toyota launched in 2015 to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from its plants. Toyota also is working with Japan’s Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to promote fuel cells in industrial applications.

Last year Toyota announced plans to test forklifts that run on hydrogen generated via a wind-powered water electrolysis process. It isn’t clear if the Motomachi vehicles are part of that program.

Toyota began limited sales of the Mirai midsize car in the U.S. and Japan in 2015. Noting that it’s easier to store hydrogen than electricity, the carmaker views fuel cells as the best long-term alternative powertrain for passenger vehicles, if cost and technical hurdles can be overcome.

The company also plans to begin road tests of a fuel cell-powered heavy-duty truck this year in California. Last year Toyota and its Hino Motors Ltd. affiliate began testing a prototype fuel cell bus in Tokyo.

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