Toyota and 7-11 Partner Up for Hydrogen


Toyota and 7-11 Team up on Hydrogen Future

7-11 has contract Toyota to develop an exclusive line of hydrogen fuel cell powered delivery trucks. The move is part of a larger effort by 7-11 to reduce its carbon emissions in Japan and promote more environmentally friendly vehicles, in general.

The delivery trucks, themselves, will be built by Toyota’s Hino Motors unit. They will be exclusive to 7-11 (in the beginning, at least) and will be unique to the convenience store at the time of launch. The trucks will ferry goods to 7-11 locations from its delivery centers, with foll scale deployment and testing set to start sometime in 2019.

I know that (despite some positive news, of late) hydrogen has its detractors among Gas 2 readers, and some of you may think this all sounds like a low volume gimmick to generate some PR. Think again. 7-11 has more than 20,000 location in Japan alone, and those are serviced by more than 5,800 delivery trucks. At the moment, hybrids and other alt-fuel solutions make up about 15% of that fleet, but 7-11 has plans to increase that figure to at least 20% by 2020. If those end up being tailor-made for the company by Toyota, that will put almost twelve hundred new hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road.

Granted, even two thousand hydrogen fuel cell vehicles wouldn’t exactly make a landslide, but it’s a good percentage over what’s out there now. Add these delivery trucks in with Toyota’s expanding line of hydrogen powered commercial vehicles and Japan’s commitment to building up that infrastructure using existing gas stations, too, and you might have the makings of a really viable alternative fuel.

Let us know if you think Toyota and 7-11 are on the right path towards reducing emissions and promoting green vehicle technology in the comments section, below.


Source | Images: Nikkei Asian Review.

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
  • jamesjm

    Short fuel cell…. EV and energy storage will squash hydrogen fuel cell tech in five years or less.

    • Maybe. Or maybe Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, and Honda are smarter than we’re giving them credit for. We’ll see.

      • Alexander Vasilenko

        Fuel cell technology has barely been getting attention. Yet it still always keeps on improving.

        The entire world is going frantic over batteries. Everyone is trying to improve them.

        Yet after all this work, the best Tesla can do after seven years of perfecting a battery electric car, is 315 miles…in good condition.

        Hyundai throws together some outdated tech and has a fuel cell car doing 350 miles easy. In any condition. Costing less, and has an actual interior

        • Epicurus

          Seven years is not a very long time in the world of research. This site reports emerging research projects all over the world which promise vast improvements in both range and recharging times.

          Nonetheless, 315 miles of range is very good. I would bet that 315 miles is way more range than 99.9% of people need. Beyond that, Tesla is well on the way to building out an excellent recharging infrastructure. I have talked to several Tesla owners who have driven across half of the U.S.with no recharging problems.

          • Joe Viocoe

            I don’t think he is ever test driven a Hyundai FCV before. I have. It’s meh.

            It is easy to have grand visions of a vehicle you’ve never driven before. Getting 350 miles in a fuel-cell vehicle is not a given. It’s not “easy to do”. You still have to drive conservatively in any vehicle.

            As Tesla has continued to improve in cost and battery range, they have taken away nothing from the performance and cargo space of the vehicle. Meanwhile adding extra range in a FCV requires encroaching in on the cabin space.
            Hydrogen cannot be stored in a nice flat pack like batteries can.

          • Epicurus

            Also, I think I would rather be rear-ended in a BEV than in a FCV.

          • Because batteries never catch on fire? LOL!!

          • Epicurus

            Yes, due to a design or manufacturing defect. Do they burst into flames when they are struck? Haven’t heard that.

          • That’s a good point, actually.

          • Joe Viocoe

            It’s an actual good thing that no explosions happen until an hour or so after the crash when the entire car has burned down.

            The point is that there is plenty of time to get to safety when a battery vehicle starts burning.

          • Alexander Vasilenko

            Seven years is plenty of time. Plus as I said, fuel cell tech gets much less attention, much less money, and has been around less than battery electric cars. Yet they are still better.

      • Joe Viocoe

        Mercedes, BMW, and even Honda are quietly backing away from hydrogen and moving forward with battery EV projects.

        Scale matters, these automakers may still have an r&d team for hydrogen fuel cells, and occasionally remind everyone with a press release and a promise… But they actually build BEVs.

        • GreenHydrogen247

          Mercedes, BMW and Honda are NOT backing away a bit from H2. Honda and GM have just formed a fuel cell partnership, Mercedes is about to release a plugin FCV next month, and BMW has stated they expect to enter the FC market in 2023-2025, which, if you were paying attention, you would have known.

          China will start mass manufacturing fuel cells very soon. They just ordered Ballard fuel cells to reverse engineer, and this Ballard order is going to buses.

          Nikola Motor will announce the locations of the first 8 Solar Hydrogen fuel stations in the next few weeks.

          Intensive testing begins on the new Toyota Fuel Cell Truck in a few weeks around the Port of Long Beach.

          All of this is maybe news to you, but all of it is true. You haven’t even BEGUN to hear about Hydrogen. Take that to the bank.

          • Joe Viocoe

            This is proving my point, always the press release and something coming in the near future. But every time the date comes, the date goes and they push it back. it has become a joke in the alternative fuel vehicle community… 2015, 2020, 2025. always getting pushback, new shills and fanboys get excited about the date… but soon we will be talking about 2030.

            Partnerships between automakers is actually a sign of weakness when it comes to their own technology.

            I have been following hydrogen FCVs for over 10 years. I’ve seen timetables slip, and excitement fade time and time again. We were promised so much from Hyundai’s first production fuel-cell vehicle, and now theyre not even available to buy, lease only. The Mirai stopped sales because infrastructure wasn’t there, and a host of other “inevitable progress” goals that never materialized.

            It is illogical to get excited about these announcements. That’s all we hear from hydrogen advocates… More announcements about things yet to happen. Meanwhile, better electric vehicles are happening in the real world. Not just on paper.

        • They’re spending more on EVs now, sure, because that’s where the market is driving them. It’s still an arms race, and still early to count out hydrogen, IMO.

          • Joe Viocoe

            I remember 7 to 10 years ago that this arms race between hydrogen and batteries seemed neck and neck. They were considered equal contenders.

            Batteries pulled out way in front, and accelerated faster than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could possibly go. Those fluent in economics understood and predicted this . Chicken and egg problem keeps hydrogen from accelerating mass adoption, while battery electric vehicles can get out of the gate simply because most Americans have access to electrical power.

            Not only would fuel cell vehicles need to begin advancing at a faster pace than battery electric vehicles currently are, but we need to continue to do so and overtake battery electric vehicles. Considering the chicken and egg problem has not been solved, I doubt this will happen.

            It may have been an arms race last decade, but it seems like it’s already over.
            Invested automakers and governments still hold on because they sunk so much capital.
            Elon musk once said, it will become obvious to everyone soon enough.

      • GreenHydrogen247

        Lots of people have no idea that Toyota spent almost $9 Billion with a B dollars just on R&D alone last year. That’s big money, and Toyota doesn’t mess around. When they do something it is because they know what they are doing. Everyone laughed at the Prius and look now!

        • Joe Viocoe

          Past performance is no indication of future results. Volkswagen, one of the largest automakers in the world, put a lot of investment into diesel engines for cars. For a long while, this move was thought to be successful as the future of fuel economy was very bright for diesel cars. Even huge global automakers make bad decisions. Throwing good money after bad.

          A lot of people are basing FCV feasibility on corporate decisions that are two decades old.
          The hydrogen corporate mindset was set in motion long before battery electric vehicles were commercially accepted. Fuel-cell vehicles did make sense when they were the only way to have zero emissions in a car. and pairing it to internal combustion engines made fuel cells look promising.
          Toyota is trapped in an old mindset where batteries were still laughed at because they could never be put into a compelling vehicle.

          Hybrids were indeed a bold decision back then, but it wasn’t even all that risky considering they still leverage internal combustion engines. It’s far riskier to change the drivetrain completely , and even more risky to switch reliance to another type of fuel , especially a fuel that is not accessible to the masses.

    • Alexander Vasilenko

      This is EV…

      Also by “energy storage” you mean batteries? Than no, in five years batteries will not squash anything. Even if battery prices fall to the magic number of $100 per kWh, they will still be too expensive.

      Plus, I don’t know big and heavy the battery should be to power a truck. But I know it’s bigger than a Model S P100. And that thing has a 100 kWh battery

      • GreenHydrogen247

        So right you are! Nikola and Toyota are going to revolutionize trucking, Germany is building hydrogen trains, and they just flew a Hydrogen airplane a few months ago. Hydrogen is the future.

        • Epicurus

          Aside from the fueling infrastructure problem, how well will the price of hydrogen at the pump compete with the cost of electricity at home where one can “fill up” a BEV for the equivalent of $1 a gallon or less?

  • Epicurus

    Who is willing to pay for the massive infrastructure required for hydrogen fueling outside of Japan? Unless Toyota and other manufacturers can get the state or federal government to subsidize it, I don’t see it happening. Aside from that huge problem, how well will the price of hydrogen at the pump compete with the cost of electricity at home where one can “fill up” a BEV for the equivalent of $1 a gallon or less?

    • The EPA is already subsidizing it in California, which is a huge market.

      • Epicurus

        You know the lunatic Trump appointed as EPA administrator will put a halt to that. Beyond that, I doubt the EPA would subsidize building out a national infrastructure.

        • They’re subsidizing oil companies, and oil companies want to control a hydrogen economy, so … I dunno, man. I feel like having the Cheeto in office is good for H2.

          • Epicurus

            That is a possibility. Then again, how will Trump justify spending taxpayer money on hydrogen infrastructure when he denies climate change and, so far, expresses no concern about polluted air?

  • Eco Logical

    I worked with Fuel Cells about 15 years ago, designed an IHFCE (Integrated Hydrogen Fuel Cell Engine) with fuel cells, Li-ion batteries, and electric motor integrated together as a system … PEM fuel cells work great but the batteries are required for startup and to accept the energy from regenerative braking … PHFCEV (Plug-in Hybrid Fuel Cell EV) is best since the fuel cell wouldn’t need to be started for short trips. This is very important since PEM fuel cells are relatively fragile i.e. the electrodes warp and ultimately crack with each heat-up and cool-down cycle.

    Also, Hydrogen is extremely difficult to work with … therefore, IMHO, a Fuel Cell Range Extender makes sense only if the Hydrogen is derived (reformed on-board the vehicle) from a common HydroCarbon fuel like Methanol, Ethanol, Gasoline, or Diesel.

    NISSAN is testing a Methanol/Ethanol FUEL CELL RANGE EXTENDER in Brazil and POWERCELL is testing a Diesel FUEL CELL RANGE EXTENDER in Sweden.

    The advantage of using common Hydrocarbons in a Fuel Cell is:
    – easier CO2 CAPTURE & STORAGE
    compared to burning them in an internal combustion engine.

    • Joe Viocoe

      The problem then becomes power density. Fuel cells that run on hydrocarbons are extremely low power, and require a large device to generate even modest amounts of power.
      Reformers also are fairly large for the amount of hydrogen they produce from the hydrocarbon fuel.

      Just as Nissan has proved in Brazil with an ethanol fuel cell… They are only getting 5 kW of power from a device that is very large.
      At a minimum, to be considered a Range Extender, 30 to 50 kW are needed.
      Anything smaller is considered an auxiliary power unit designed only to provide power for specific non-driving functions.

      • Eco Logical

        I’m not talking about a ‘hydrocarbon’ fuel cell i.e. SOFC, I am talking about a Hydrogen fuel cell i.e. PEM, using Hydrogen derived from hydrocarbons.

        If the Range Extender is turned on before the battery is fully depleted (say 50%) then it only needs to match the ‘average’ power of the EV at highway speed. For a Tesla Model X it’s about 20 kW, for a compact car like the Nissan Leaf it’s a lot less. A smaller fuel cell means less hydrogen and a smaller reformer.

        • Joe Viocoe

          Like I said, onboard reformers to produce hydrogen are not small, lightweight, or cheap. Not the ones that can produce enough hydrogen per minute to even keep it cruising.

          Constant power requirements for a Range Extender are a bit of a misleading number. Automotive engineers already know what it takes to be a Range Extender. 20 kW is insufficient. The BMW i3 Rex has a 45 kW engine. A hydrogen fuel cell stack may get away with 35 kW since it will not need to have a higher peak power output. Any lower than that, and you risk depleting the battery making the vehicle undrivable if you have any condition That draws extra power such as inclines, headwinds, climate control.
          This is why the smallest production Range Extender is 45 kW.

          Even at 35 kW, the reformer and fuel-cell stack would be too large to fit in a vehicle. you would need the engine bay of a Mack truck, just the power a vehicle the size of a Yaris.

  • socrateos

    I just don’t see batteries can replace engines for all vehicles. Hydrogen in comparison has wider applications from powering forklifts to rockets.

  • robert Jones

    Blah Blah Blah, Has anyone with positive opinions on Hydrogen ever refueled one? It’s a pain. Also the costs of the equipment are massive when compared with Gas or Electric. If one of the very clever and quite delicate nozzles needed for hydrogen breaks then it is tens of thousands to replace. When the subsidized hydrogen offered by the manufacturers comes to end consumers are in for a shock!

  • Christopher Holly

    The hydrogen fuel for these vehicles isn’t exactly GHG negative or even neutral. No thanks, more greenwashing by Toyota.