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Toyota pioneers forklift fuel cell development

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World forklift technology leader Toyota Industries Corporation (TICO) has independently developed the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell hybrid system for forklift trucks.

The prototype TOYOTA FCHV-F featuring the system was displayed at CeMAT, the world’s leading trade fair for intralogistics, in Hannover, Germany, in October.

TICO’s fuel cell hybrid system has been developed in cooperation with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), the leading company in fuel cell vehicle development who developed their fuel cell prototype in 1996.

This allows TICO to make use of TMC’s advanced technology and to share components in the automotive field. TICO aims to further develop high-performance, low-cost fuel cell systems with these advantages.

TICA president and chief executive officer Steve Harper said the environment had been a key Toyota priority for many years.

“The corporation has established clear commitments to environmental welfare in its worldwide environmental policy,” Mr Harper said.

“Fuel cell technology significantly reduces harmful environmental emissions.

“The use of hydrogen as the main power source in the fuel cell forklift means the machine can produce electricity to drive the vehicle with zero emissions of carbon dioxide.”

Fuel cell forklifts have gained attention in recent years amid a growing worldwide trend towards environmental conservation, as they make use of innovative technology.

Although some technical issues remain to be solved before the use of fuel cell forklifts reaches large-scale production status, a resolution is expected soon.

Fuel cell forklifts will require minimal refilling and significantly less maintenance than current battery-electric forklifts – where the batteries must be recharged and the battery fluid level maintained.

Steve Harper said TICO aimed to further accumulate technological expertise and distinguish its products from its competitors.

“TICO’s huge commitment to forklift research and development means expertise is being continually gained, with emphasis on the independent development of engines and AC-power drivetrain systems,” he said.

“TICO’s fuel cell technology will build on the expertise TICO has gained through many years of developing power electronics technology for its electric forklifts.

“TICO also gains through its participation in TMC’s automotive fuel cell development.

“These important skills are constantly put to use as the company continues to advance its fuel cell technology.”

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