Toyota has made a name for itself among green car enthusiasts and environmentalists thanks to the brand’s pioneering efforts with the introduction of the Prius hybrid. Nowadays, hybrids as well as electric vehicles are becoming more commonplace, and it seems like almost every major auto manufacturer has a green car or two in its lineup. However, Toyota has chosen to look to the further again — this time, in the realm of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. However, early efforts to incorporate hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative source of fuel passed under the radar, so Toyota has gone back to the drawing board, choosing to introduce hydrogen fuel in different areas in order to slowly build demand.
The problem with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles parallels the initial problem with electric vehicles. Electric charging ports were rare because EVs themselves were rare, but nobody wanted to buy EVs because of their short range and shortage of charging ports. Hydrogen fueling stations are similarly scarce due to the lack of demand for vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel.
Consequently, Toyota is turning its attention (temporarily) away from the automobile market and targeting a more industrial demographic. The next vehicle from the company to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells will be none other than a forklift. These forklifts will be engineered to harness wind power to generate hydrogen to power them through small tasks like shuttling vegetables, beer, and other lightweight goods in the Tokyo Bay marketplace.
As demand for the hydrogen-powered forklifts grows, Toyota will slowly release more mainstream hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with the plan being to eventually launch more passenger vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai. Additionally, Toyota is the world’s largest producer on forklifts, which means these forklifts may catch on sooner than one might think.