Fuel Cell Powered Truck

Fuel Cell Powered Truck

This fuel cell–powered truck looks amazingly like a Kenworth, but it isn’t. It’s a Toyota test truck running in California as part of the campaign by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to minimise emissions in their area.


Toyota revealed ‘Project Portal’, a hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy-duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. The zero-emission truck proof of concept will take part in a feasibility study examining the potential of fuel-cell technology in heavy-duty applications.


“As they did with the Prius and the Mirai, Toyota is taking a leap into the future of technology,” said Mary D. Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board (CARB). “By bringing this heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell proof of concept truck to the Port, Toyota has planted a flag that we hope many others will follow.


CARB will be following the progress of this feasibility study with interest, as we look to develop the best mix of regulations and incentives to rapidly expand the market for the cleanest, most efficient big trucks to meet the need for dramatic change in the freight sector.”


Project Portal is a fully functioning heavy duty truck with the power and torque capacity to conduct port drayage operations while emitting nothing but water vapour. Heavy duty vehicles make up a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the Port of Los Angeles, and the Portal feasibility study may provide another path to further reduce emissions.


“Toyota believes that hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Toyota Executive Vice President, Bob Carter. “From creating one of the world’s first mass market fuel cell vehicles, to introducing fuel cell buses in Japan, Toyota is a leader in expanding the use of versatile and scalable zero-emission technology.”


The Project Portal platform is designed to provide the target performance required to support port drayage operations. The truck generates more than 670 hp and 1800 Nm of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12 kWh battery, a relatively small battery to support semi load operations. The concept’s gross combined weight capacity is 38 tonnes., and its estimated driving range is more than 320 km per fill, under normal port operation.


To see the power of this truck watch the first 20 seconds of this video:


“The Port of Los Angeles is excited to collaborate with Toyota to explore the feasibility of fuel cell technology for port drayage operations,” said Tony Gioiello, Deputy Executive Director of Port Development, Port of Los Angeles. “Our port and industry stakeholders have demonstrated their leadership in reducing pollution from port-related operations, and we see the potential of Toyota’s zero-emission heavy-duty truck technology as another solution to meet the long-term goals of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan.”


Doing the Milk Run

Doing The Milk Run

Here’s a gentle story of a truck driver who lives in a world almost completely beyond our experiences in Australia. This driver works in the fjords of Norway, going from farm to farm collecting milk into his truck and dog tanker set-up.

Like here is harsh with the short days of the frozen North in the winter meaning his working day will start in the dark and end in the dark. The truck weaves its way though small farm tracks to the small dairy farms dotted along the fjord.

He is also driving a full size line haul cabbed truck on a local delivery run. A truck like this would be considered overkill, here in Australia. It’s also got 580 hp under the hood, quite a lot to pull just 29,000 litres of milk.

It is all so alien to us, the environment, the equipment used, the climate, the incredible scenery and the barge to get back to the big city, Bergen, to unload the milk.

At the same time it is all very familiar. Drivers hauling milk in Australia would recognise a lot of the process, going into the dairy, sniffing the milk to check its OK. Then fitting the pump on the truck onto the tank and commencing to load up with milk. The test samples have to be made and then taken back to the milk facility for testing before unloading into the bottling supply.

The multi-generational element to the milk hauling business, with his grandfather and father starting in the milk game back in 1967 and the family carrying on the tradition.

Then there’s the fact he passed his truck test on his birthday and went out and did his first load that afternoon. There are plenty of people working in the industry here who were also champing at the bit to get to drive the big trucks.

If there is one thing, above all, which shines through in this video, it’s his passion. He has a passion for the job, for his truck, for his community and the farmers he collects from. It shines through in the way he talks so matter of factly about the work.

It's All Japanese To Me

It’s All Japanese To Me

These truck promotion videos are all Japanese to me, but the differences between the offerings from the different brands gives an idea about the varied approaches brands take to get their message across. The new Quon was released by UD Trucks in Japan this week and the video shows the Volvo influence, with a strong emphasis on the smart technology now included in the truck.


Here’s a promotional video from Fuso in Australia, taking a completely different approach. It looks good, with a great sound track. This is definitely Australia and the video seems to be trying to show us how comfortable the Fuso truck is in the Australian environment:


For Isuzu, there is a completely different approach, using a well known Australian face to talk to us at a personal level about all of the features of the Isuzu F Series:


Hino take a much more philosophical approach to the truck video. Here we are looking at the big picture, at how Hino think about trucks and developing them for the end-user:


I Love My Truck

So many drivers say, ‘I Love My Truck’. Check out the big Kenworth and Cummins fan above, he admits he is one-eyed, he even loves his Autoshift!


British drivers reminiscing about the old style underpowered British trucks of the past:


Sometimes it’s numbers and sometimes it’s a feeling that helps you choose your favourite truck, either way there’s no wrong answer, as this rather enthusiastic truck lover explains:


For me, I’d struggle to choose a favourite manufacturer, or a favourite model. My favourite truck for long-haul trips might not be the same favourite I’d choose for urban driving, overnights, hilly routes or pure aesthetics.

What’s your favourite truck?


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What Truck Drivers Have to Put Up With

What Truck Drivers Have to Put Up With

This is what truck drivers have to put up with day in day out. The number of compilations of car drivers acting like idiots in front of a truck is unbelievable. Do they all suffer from a a collective madness saved up for when trucks are around and the risks are so much higher.


These scenes also demonstrate the psychological toll on the truckie. These events and thousands like it occur and then replay in the heads of truck drivers and fill them with dread, thinking about worst case scenarios and having to live with the consequences.


‘Do Not Overtake a Turning Vehicle’. Maybe we should put signs on trucks to remind people of this rule? Oh!


Here’s another prime example. The Suzuki Swift waits patiently at the cross roads before setting off with perfect timing, to get slammed by the truck:


It’s not just an Australian thing, here is a US car driver who can’t wait and seems to have a death wish:


Then you get this kind of crazy aggressive driving around a truck. At least, this one seems to get what they deserve:

Best Looking US Trucks

Best Looking US Trucks

Here are the Best Looking US Trucks rolling into the Mid America Truck Show last week. The annual event takes place in Louisville, Kentucky and attracts the best customised trucks in North America. In recent years the big truck manufacturers have shunned this massive truck show, but this year’s event saw the return of Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack and Western Star to the fold.


The big draw for the hordes of truck fans who flock into the event are the show trucks. Here are some of the best:



Here’s a more comprehensive video tour from one of the visitors to MATS:



At the end of the event the wide selection of show trucks make their way out of the show site and head back home:

Flying Down The Highway

Flying Down The Highway

New road builders are always flying down the highway, when they are looking to spend our hard earned tax dollars on road improvements. One of the biggies for the trucking industry is the second Toowoomba crossing, which is being built right now and will transform the transport of road freight from Brisbane and its port to the agriculture and industry hubs on the Darling Downs and throughout the vast Western area of Queensland. This fly through shows the work as it is taking place. Hopefully. the climb up the range for the fully loaded A-double fuel tankers heading out to the mine sites will also be such a swift and smooth journey. It will undoubtedly be an improvement on the steep range used now and the gauntlet of traffic lights and pedestrians, which is the CBD of Toowoomba.


One of the common threads with these fly though videos is the cheery uplifting music composed to make us all feel good about ourselves, after sitting in a snarl up while the road is being planned or built.


Elsewhere in SE Queensland, the traffic heading for the West are currently getting chewed up in a the schmozzle which is where the Gateway and Logan motorways come together. Here is a fly through of the proposed changes which should cope with the massive amount freight heading through this area, coming in and out of some of the massive freight facilities, like Toll’s vast NQX site at Karrawatha, right in the middle of this gridlock:


Here is one of the big contentious projects in NE Melbourne. Making a freight route from the Hume Highway to Melbourne’s Eastern industrial areas has only been vital for the past thirty years or so, and they are still in the planning stage! Here is the latest attempt to get freight through and area of leafy middle class suburbs, go underneath, at a massive cost:


Sydney is crying out for new roads in just about every suburb. The incredible pace of growth in the city’s West means the new roads are virtually full as soon as they are opened. this is probably going to be the case when this one, at Badgery’s Creek comes online.


Meanwhile in South Australia, it’s all about the the North/South route through the city. The trucking companies of the area are still fighting through roadworks every day, the traffic jam just moves on a regular basis. As soon as the route is finished, the cry will continue for some real action on the biggest problem, getting freight and trucks from the industrial Northern suburbs and the route to Melbourne over thew Adelaide Hills to the West:


The controversial Freight Link project in Perth, connecting the Port of Fremantle to the road network,  stimulated the creation of many animations and fly throughs, but the kind of political game-playing, portrayed here, has seen the whole thing stopped and the Barnett government turfed out in the recent election:




Remain Vigilant

Shoot The Messenger

Sitting in a remote studio with headphones on the other night, being part of a piece on ABC Radio’s Nightlife  prompted me to think how easy it is for us in the trucking industry to shoot the messenger, instead of helping to get the message out there. I was putting my head above the parapet and trying to get the ‘holy grail’, a positive message about the trucking industry, out there to the general public and to the many truckies who listen into night-time radio.

Waiting for the calls to come in after about twenty minutes was nerve wracking. My concern was the callers would miss the point and try to send us down some side track and away from the important messages we need to get out about the trucking industry.

As it happens, we were quite lucky, if the callers were complaining, it was about what the academic expert who was on the line in Melbourne had asserted. This didn’t take us too far off track and it gave us a few more opportunities to get our point across.

With my limited experience with this kind of thing, I have worked out what the politicians’ spin doctors worked out many years ago, bring the subject matter back to where you want to make a point. Then make the point, and then make it again.

Of course it helps to have a few real facts about the situation to back up your assertions. Thank-you to the National Truck Accident Research Centre, by the way. Simple figures we can all understand is a vital part of getting the message out.

Unfortunately, the message is often not allowed to get out , because we as an industry disagree with some of the things our advocates say. We pick on particular points to criticise, rather than looking at the big picture. We put down a speaker because of the kind of language they use or the way they repeat the same message over and over again.

In fact, we need more people putting out a simple message over and over again, and less people preaching to the converted about their own particular bugbear or agenda. We all need to be singing from the same, straightforward hymn sheet and leave the bickering between ourselves for private conversations.

The trucking industry may not think it, but we are in the middle of a crisis. The only news and images passing before the eyes of the general public are negative, it’s all about dirty trucks causing congestion, drugged up truckies causing accidents and ‘monster’ trucks causing fear on the roads.

Where are the smart advocates who should be getting out there and running an agenda spreading the word about the positive benefits of the trucking industry, its contribution to the economy and society, its vast improvement in its safety record and what a great industry it is to work in?

Why aren’t there articulate heads popping up from the parapet? In the past, what has the industry done to those rare spokespeople who have got a decent media platform? They have picked holes in their words, argued with the fine detail and failed to support them. Those people know who I am talking about. Let’s change it around and decide to not shoot the messenger.



Danger Around a Forklift

Danger Around a Forklift

There always danger around a forklift in a trucking environment. Here is a WorksafeNSW video about the basics of forklift safety. As anyone with any experience on a fork lift will tell you, this is nowhere near enough information to help a novice be safe on a forklift, just in this one instance. It does not take into any account the practicalities of  what it is like to be loading or unloading a truck.


The environment is noisy and busy, loads vary in size all of the time. Pallets are often badly stacked or off centre, making fitting the load on the truck an issue. There are also the pressures associated with the driver wanting tell the forkie how they want the load on, and quick! Invariably, there will be a queue of trucks to load and unload and a goods inwards/despatch under the gun to get results.


This second video has a lot more sensible information. It shows a young forkie in a realistic situation, doing the right thing, but doing it in a way the average safe forklift driver would normally work. He shows his practical skills and shows how the job can be done properly:


Unfortunately, not all forkies are sensible or like to do the job just right. This driver, on a fish dock in Alaska, has skills aplenty but remains anonymous, because he breaks all the rules to get the job done:



Our last video, is a cautionary tale about just what can happen if it does go wrong:

Future Delivery Options

Future Delivery Options

This week we are looking a number of future delivery options and all the weird and wonderful ways goods will be delivered in the future. There has been a lot of talk about drones doing the job, but legal hurdles about use of air space and the crowded infrastructure overhead make this pipe dream problematic, without some major changes taking place.


This video shows a trial taking place in the US for UPS. Note: it takes place in wide open country well away from potential trouble. Unfortunately most parcels are delivered in busy, crowded suburbs. At least they’re having a crack!


Next up is the often touted Amazon drone delivery system. This has not been permitted to trial in the US, and has, instead, headed to the UK to find some wide open space with few powerlines in which to strut its stuff:


It’s not all about being up in the air. There are some serious land bound contenders to fill this role in the future. This one sees a flock(?) of robots descending on an unsuspecting suburb near you in a van. They are then released and deliver their cargo out to a number of points simultaneously. The driver of the van then loads them up again for the next delivery:


The Dominos Pizza delivery robots look a bit more jazzy, but not so practical in their use. The big advantage for the general public is the robots drive a lot less dangerously than your average pizza delivery driver:


Now we come to the eco-friendly version of future delivery, the bike. This one does use some electric power, but also looks a little unstable when fully loaded, and is not very good at dubbing English speech onto the video:


This bike-based delivery system is actually working on the streets of Gothenberg in Sweden. The system is a kind of bicycle semi-trailer and works well in cycle-friendly Sweden. However, put these contraptions on the distinctly cycle-unfriendly streets of somewhere like Sydney, and see what happens:


This last delivery system leaves me speechless!: