TOKYO -- Japanese automaker Toyota Motor will develop fuel cell trucks exclusively for convenience store powerhouse Seven-Eleven Japan, the companies announced Wednesday, aiming to cut carbon emissions by promoting the eco-friendly vehicles.
The hydrogen-powered trucks will ferry goods to Seven-Eleven's stores from its delivery centers. The two companies aim to start jointly testing them in 2019.
Toyota will base the trucks on those of its Hino Motors unit, developing and manufacturing them specifically for its tie-up with Seven-Eleven. It also will consider selling them commercially in the future. Details such as the number of trucks to be made, their loading capacity and their output performance have yet to be released.
Seven-Eleven, a unit of Seven & i Holdings, has about 20,000 convenience stores in Japan, served by some 5,800 delivery trucks. Hybrids and other environmentally friendly vehicles make up about 15% of this fleet, and the company aims to lift that figure to 20% by 2020. It also aims to start using 25 electric delivery trucks made by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus, part of Germany's Daimler Group, within the year.
Toyota launched the Mirai, the world's first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle, in 2014. This February, it began offering fuel cell buses in the Tokyo region as well. But there are only about 90 hydrogen refueling stations for the vehicles in all of Japan, marking much slower growth than for electric vehicles.
Seven-Eleven has three convenience stores that double as hydrogen refueling stations, but plans to increase that number to between 10 and 20 by 2020. Its partnership with Toyota will thus contribute to building infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles as well.