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The trucks will be used for short-haul logistics at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Toyota has announced plans to begin testing hydrogen-powered semi trucks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Known as Project Portal, the heavy-duty trucking initiative combines a Class 8 chassis with a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain. A proof-of-concept prototype has already completed 4,000 test miles, hauling progressively heavier loads.

The trucks will be designed for short-haul 'drayage' logistics, moving cargo from ship terminals to nearby rail yards and warehouses for distribution. Each truck is expected to tally around 200 miles per day.

"These localized, frequent route patterns are designed to test the demanding drayage duty-cycle capabilities of the fuel cell system while capturing real world performance data," Toyota says. "As the study progresses, longer haul routes will be introduced."

The prototype trucks use two Mirai fuel-cell stacks and a relatively small 12-kWh battery, delivering 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound-feet of torque. Gross combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds, competitive with traditional diesel-powered rigs.

With a dim outlook for hydrogen-powered automobiles in the consumer market, Toyota and other automakers appear to be exploring other potential applications for the zero-emissions technology. Short-haul trucking at busy ports presumably avoids problems with scant refueling infrastructure on the open road.

Whether in cars, crossovers or heavy-duty semis, hydrogen fuel cells continue to face increasing competitive pressure from pure battery-powered electric powertrains.