Over the past few years, Toyota’s made quite a few interesting partnerships that in turn have led to quite a few interesting results. One of their most recent partnerships is with Seven-Eleven Japan Co., and it focuses on a concept that’s becoming increasingly paramount in the world we live in: Eco-friendly vehicular distribution systems. The fact that Toyota is working hard to come up with environmentally conscientious solutions is something that we here at Westbury Toyota are happy to get behind. With things as they are, it’s crucial that more and more automakers look into solutions such as this, and we’re hyped that Toyota’s at the forefront of the movement!
At the center of the collaboration between Toyota and Seven-Eleven is hydrogen – more specifically, hydrogen fuel cells that are meant to be used in the convenience store chain’s delivery vehicles. The use of hydrogen as fuel is a burgeoning economy which offers energy solutions, and it’s an economy that more and more businesses are beginning to take notice of. Toyota already has knowledge and experience in developing vehicles that are powered by fuel cells, and Seven-Eleven has an ideal testing ground: 200,000 stores throughout Japan that rely upon delivery trucks.
When the partnership was announced last year, Seven-Eleven and Toyota unveiled a prototype delivery truck with a load capacity of three tons, powered by a fuel cell. Should everything go as planned, the vast majority of Seven-Eleven’s delivery fleet will eventually be powered exclusively by hydrogen fuel cells.
Hydrogen fuel cells will both run the vehicle and provide the electricity necessary for keeping the cargo compartment of the vehicles chilled, reports Tina Casey of Triple Pundit. What’s more, use of these fuel cells will also significantly reduce the amount of harmful emissions being released into the atmosphere. The reduction of Seven-Eleven’s significant carbon footprint is a step in the right direction, and a step that many other convenience chains and automakers will most certainly consider.
Vehicle fuel cells aren’t the only part of this collaboration between Seven-Eleven and Toyota, though. In the future, the two companies will be working toward another eco-friendly solution by making the convenience stores more energy efficient. As the writers of the Asahi Shimbun explain, hydrogen generators will be used to power Seven-Eleven stores across Japan. In addition, they’ll be creating unique storage cells that use hybrid batteries in order to store and use electricity generated from solar power. These “next generation outlets” will start being used at Seven-Eleven stores across Japan in the fall of 2019.
As we mentioned earlier, this isn’t the first foray into vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells for Toyota. In March of this year, Toyota’s fuel-cell bus, “Sora,” was put into use by Tokyo’s metropolitan government for bus services. In the same vein, Toyota is also doing experiments with fuel cell trucks in areas around America’s west coast. Selling fuel cell passenger vehicles isn’t an easy market; however, it’s very different with buses and delivery trucks, which is a large part of why Toyota has been focusing on those vehicle types in this line of research.
“There are limitations to selling fuel-cell passenger cars alone. The nationwide convenience store chain’s introduction of our trucks will offer great potential.”- Shigeki Tomoyama, Executive Vice President, Toyota
As you can see, Toyota is more than prepared to tackle today's environmental concerns – and help pave the way toward a future in which the world is a cleaner, healthier, and happier place. While this is just the first step forward, we have no doubts that the groundbreaking work of Toyota and Seven-Eleven can be the catalyst that leads to clean energy automotive technology in the Toyotas of tomorrow that will take to the streets of Long Island in the near future.
From this perspective, there is really only one question left to answer: Which innovative design or breakthrough that is sure to radically enhance or improve today's transportation marketplace is up next for the world's most accomplished and forward-thinking automaker?