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Toyota doubles down on zero emissions heavy duty trucks

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Toyota Monday said the company took “the next great leap” toward the future of zero-emission trucking, unveiling the second iteration of its hydrogen fuel cell electric Class 8 truck before a crowd of media and industry leaders during the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars in Northern Michigan.

The new truck, known internally as “Beta,” expands on the capabilities of Toyota’s first Project Portal test vehicle by increasing the estimated range to more than 300 miles per fill according to Andrew Lund, chief engineer for the project. The truck also enhances versatility and maneuverability with the addition of a sleeper cab and a unique fuel cabinet combination that further increases cab space without increasing wheelbase, he said.

Since it first began operation in April 2017, the Project Portal “Alpha” truck has logged nearly 10,000 miles of testing and real-world drayage operations in and around the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles while emitting nothing but water vapor. The Beta vehicle will begin drayage operations in the fall, increasing the Ports’ zero emission trucking capacity and further reducing the environmental impact of drayage operations.

Lund said Project Portal 2.0 builds on the lessons learned from the launch of the Alpha vehicle in 2017. The first heavy-duty truck was the result of a true skunkworks effort within Toyota that moved from initial concept to a fully-capable drayage truck driving silently out of a Michigan garage in just over a year. Engineers and technicians worked long hours to reconfigure the wire harnesses, electronics and other components of two off-the-lot Mirai fuel cell electric cars to create one of the world’s first OEM-built zero-emission heavy trucks.

The results of their work continue to impress, Lund said. With a gross combined weight capacity of 80,000 lbs. and a driving range of more than 200 miles per fill, the 670-plus horsepower Alpha truck produces 1325 pound-feet of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery. Project Portal Beta maintains these torque and horsepower numbers while also extending the range of the vehicle and pushing forward on other key performance metrics.

“By evaluating the first truck in our test facilities and on the actual roads in the LA area, we made a list of improvements for the Beta truck build process and performance enhancements,” Lund said. “We needed to move beyond a proof of concept, which the first truck accomplished, to something that is not only better than the original but is also more commercially viable.”

Lund said the story of Project Portal’s inception and evolution follows the long tradition of Toyota innovation that dates to the company’s entry into the automotive space. The first Toyota (then Toyoda) sedan, the A1, was produced in much the same manner as the original Project Portal truck- through experimentation, trial and error, and a lot of sweat. Once completed in 1935, the A1 was tested by the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, and then refined into their first commercially available car, the Toyoda AA. Likewise, through the lessons learned with the first truck, Project Portal 2.0 is more refined, functional, and capable. Also, just as the AA started Toyota on a path as an automotive leader, Project Portal is expanding Toyota’s already robust environmental leadership to the next level. Going forward, Toyota remains committed to supporting the development of a consumer-facing hydrogen infrastructure to realize the potential of fuel cell vehicles.

Over 16,000 pollution-emitting trucks are working in Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, a number that is estimated to balloon to 32,000 by 2030. More than 43,000 drayage trucks are in operation at ports across the United States, contributing significant amounts of carcinogens, diesel particulate matter (DPM) and other pollutants into the air of port communities and surrounding neighborhoods.

“Our goal with the first truck was to see if it could be accomplished, and we did that,” said Craig Scott, senior manager for Toyota’s North American electrified vehicle and technologies Office. “This time we’re looking at commercial viability. We want to help make a difference — a significant difference when it comes to the air quality not only in the LA area, but across the U.S. and around the globe.”

Lund said Monday’s announcement is a continuation of Toyota’s Environmental Challenge 2050 efforts to eliminate CO2 emissions from its Toyota Logistics facility at the Port of Long Beach. Toyota has previously announced the construction of the Tri-Gen facility which will be the first megawatt-sized carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with hydrogen fueling in the world. The 100  renewable plant will use agricultural waste to generate water, electricity, and hydrogen that will support Toyota Logistics Services’ (TLS) operations at the Port of Long Beach.

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Truck Parking Near Me opens 2 overnight, monthly locations in Chicago area

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A survey of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirms that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicago area. (The Trucker file photo)

CHICAGO — Truck Parking Near Me has opened overnight and monthly truck parking for commercial trucks in Gary, Indiana, and Bellwood, Illinois.

Truck Parking Near Me President Mike Sicuro said his company did a survey and determined that the Chicagoland/Gary area is in the top five areas of the country where overnight truck parking is at a crisis level.

“Our surveys of major trucking companies and over the road drivers confirm that there is a need beyond crisis levels within a 40 mile radius of the Chicagoland area and we have chosen to expand here, where the need is the greatest” Sicuro said.  “In 2017, the Indiana Department of Transportation reported that almost 38,000 trucks traveled daily near our Interstate 94 location and the same year the Illinois DOT reported that 6,000 trucks used the I-290 daily near our Bellwood/Chicago parking location. This information was influential in our decision to build truck parking in the area to accommodate the overnight parking need.”

In the same report, the U.S. Department of Transportation analysis of the area estimated that the Illinois and Indiana portions of the Chicago Metropolitan Area (which includes Gary) shipped and received about 427 million tons of freight worth $723 billion via truck in 2017. The US DOT reports that the tonnage has increased slightly since 2017.

Sicuro said recent surveys by the American Transportation Research Institute reported that the average over-the-road driver spends over one hour a day searching for overnight parking. This translates into $5,000 a year in lost revenue for a single OTR driver.

Take $5,000 per driver per year, he said, with 48% of 1.9 million long haul truck driver losing one hour of driving time, this number translates into almost $5 billion per year, which is the 0.5% of the total transportation cost across the United States.

“Truck Parking Near Me has strategically found parking to meet the demands of the trucking industry and will be looking for other opportunities outside the Chicagoland area to expand,” Sicuro said.

The Gary parking facility is located at 1500 North Colfax Avenue. Approaching from State Road 912, take the 15th Street exit and go east on Western 15th Avenue to Colfax Street. Approaching from I-94, take the Burr Street exit, go north on Burr Street to West 15th Avenue, turn west onto Colfax Street and go to West 15th Avenue.  A driver needing to get to downtown Chicago for a pick up or delivery, the Colfax location is only 40 minutes from downtown Chicago. The parking lot is lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

The Chicago parking facility is near Chicago O’Hare at 220 North 25th Avenue, Bellwood, Illinois, and like the Gary location, requires a reservation. The Chicago location is also lighted, gated and requires a reservation for daily parking or contract for monthly.

Sicuro said Truck Parking Near Me is adding parking facilities throughout the Gary and Chicago area with a priority on locations where it is often most difficult for truckers and trucking companies to find overnight parking.

Drivers can reserve their daily space at www.truckparkingnearme.com or call Mike Sicuro directly at 708-426-4511 for monthly parking.

 

 

 

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UPS makes minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple

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UPS' work with TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

ATLANTA — UPS Thursday said its venture capital arm UPS Ventures has made a minority investment in autonomous driving company TuSimple.

Together, both companies are testing self-driving tractor trailers on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network. This is an extension of the ongoing commercial relationship between UPS and TuSimple in which UPS has purchased transportation services from TuSimple, according to Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price.

The work with autonomous driving company TuSimple began with the goal of helping UPS better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network, Price said. L4 Autonomous means the vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention. Currently, however, laws regulating L4 Autonomous driving require a driver in the vehicle at all times to take over operation if needed.

Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time.

“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” Price said. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering. All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition – and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet.”

Founded in 2015, TuSimple’s mission is to bring the first self-driving truck to market, to increase safety, decrease transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. TuSimple develops technology that will allow shipping companies to operate self-driving class 8 tractor-trailers – those that exceed 33,000 pounds and typically have three or more axles.

UPS contracts with third-party trucking companies during its peak shipping season. TuSimple believes it could cut average purchased transportation costs by 30%.

“We are honored by UPS’s strategic investment and their vote of confidence in TuSimple, this proves their commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation,” said TuSimple’s Founder, President & CTO, Xiaodi Hou. “TuSimple is confident that it can accelerate bringing the first self-driving truck to market to increase road safety.”

UPS’s tests with TuSimple are part of an advanced technology evaluation for vehicles in the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network. UPS is investing in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to increase fuel efficiency and improve customer service to ensure that UPS remains the shipper of choice.

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NexTraq launches solution to lock cell phones, tablets while driving

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Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. (Courtesy: NEXTRAQ)

ATLANTA — NexTraq, a Michelin Group company, is launching the new NexTraq MobileBlock ─  in partnership with SafeDrivePod ─ a solution that ensures drivers’ smartphone and tablet screens are locked during driving. This new tool is a great for managers to help enforce policies restricting unauthorized use of company-issued tablets and smartphones limiting distractions.

“NexTraq’s MobileBlock helps to stop smartphone-based distractions behind the wheel,” said Todd Hanna, vice president of sales for NexTraq. “In many states and municipalities, using smartphones and tablets while driving is against the law. It can be dangerous. MobileBlock is a solution that can keep the driver and crew safe while at work.”

Available in the United States and Canada, MobileBlock is a small, self-adhering pod that is mounted in the vehicle. An app is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play to the tablets or smartphones used by drivers of the vehicle. The software shuts off all access to apps while driving.  Emergency call and navigations apps are still usable with the tool installed.

NexTraq, a Michelin group company, is a part of Michelin’s Global Services and Solutions business line. The group boasts over 2,000 employees, serving more than 70,000 customers, with over 850,000 vehicles utilizing telematics solutions, worldwide. From tracking and reporting to routing and scheduling, NexTraq is more than just a provider of vehicle and asset tracking solutions. The company is a valued GPS fleet and mobile workforce management partner for its customers.

 

 

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