Toyota Testing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powered Forklifts

A Toyota hybrid fuel cell powered forklift. (Courtesy: Toyota Forklifts at
A Toyota hybrid fuel cell powered forklift.
(Courtesy: Toyota Forklifts at

The Prefectural Government of Kanagawa in Japan, Toyota and three private sector companies have partnered to create a low-carbon hydrogen supply chain that will produce hydrogen to be used in fuel cells to power forklifts.

Electricity produced at the Yokohama City Wind Power Plant will be used to electrolyze hydrogen that will be compressed, stored and then transported in hydrogen fueling trucks to four sites –- a factory, a vegetable and fruit market, and two warehouses.

The hydrogen will be used in fuel cells to power forklifts, according to an announcement by Toyota on March 14.

Toyota asserts that the hydrogen will reduce CO2 emissions by about 80 percent compared to forklifts powered by gasoline or electricity.

The program is meant to test the creation of a hydrogen supply chain and study the costs and potential CO2 reductions that may be achieved.

Toyota stated that the demonstration project intends to create a system to produce hydrogen using wind power to electrolyze water and then develop a means to transport and store the fuel.

The hydrogen that will be used to power the fuel cells will be stored at Toyota Turbine and Systems, Inc. and the electricity will be stored in an environmentally friendly storage battery system that recycles hybrid vehicle batteries.

The hydrogen will be compressed for use in forklifts and the consumption of the hydrogen by the forklifts will be monitored. Twelve forklifts will use the hydrogen at the four sites.

Toyota introduced the first fuel cell powered forklift in Japan in February 2016 and the lifts emit very little amounts of CO2 during operation.

Toyota was the first forklift manufacturer to develop a fuel cell hybrid system to power forklifts in 2005 and Crown Forklift manufacturers is currently making fuel cell forklifts in partnership with Plug Power, Ballard, GrafTech and other fuel cell power pack providers.

These are the advantages of using fuel cell powered forklifts.

·      There is very little CO2 emission and there is less pollution and low fuel consumption.
·      The fuel cell emits water rather than harmful gases.
·      Fuel cell powered forklifts run longer.
·      Less time is required to fuel the cells.
·      There is less downtime.
·      More space is available because there are no batteries to store.
·      Fuel cell powered forklifts generate less heat.

Here are the disadvantages of fuel cell powered forklifts.

·      There are a limited number of fueling stations.
·      Fuel cell powered forklifts are more expensive than hybrid or electric lifts.
·      Fuel cell powered forklifts are commonly larger than ordinary forklifts.
·      There are a limited number of fuel cell powered forklifts.

There were 4,000 fuel cell powered forklifts in the United States in 2013. The first fuel cell powered lift was introduced in 1960.