TOKYO -- Seven-Eleven Japan is partnering with Toyota Motors to test hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered delivery trucks for making deliveries from the retailer’s distribution centers to its convenience stores.
Toyota is designing the refrigerated fuel-cell trucks exclusively for Seven-Eleven Japan. The pilot, which will begin in 2019, will test how effectively the trucks help cut carbon-dioxide emissions and save energy, Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Seven-Eleven Japan, a unit of Seven & i Holdings, Tokyo, has about 20,000 c-stores supplied by 5,800 delivery trucks in Japan. About 15% of its delivery vehicle fleet is hybrid or other “environmentally friendly” vehicles, a share that Seven-Eleven would like to grow to 20% by 2020. Seven-Eleven has plans to add 25 electric-powered delivery trucks to its fleet in the next year as well.
The hydrogen fueling infrastructure in Japan is still developing, with only 90 fueling sites. It’s a number that Toyota hopes to grow as it develops the market for its Mirai fuel-cell-powered passenger vehicle, which debuted in 2014. Three of Seven-Eleven’s c-stores have hydrogen refueling sites. The retailer plans to increase this to between 10 and 20 fueling sites by 2020.
As part of their partnership, Toyota and Seven-Eleven are also considering testing a fuel-cell-powered generator as a power source for the c-stores hosting hydrogen fueling stations. And the team will introduce a stationary power-storage system that uses rechargeable automobile batteries and can be used as an emergency power source during disasters.
In the United States, analysts expect the number of hydrogen-refueling locations to reach more than 50 by the end of 2017, with most in California. 7-Eleven Inc., the Irving, Texas-based U.S. unit of Seven & i Holdings, has not announced plans to add any hydrogen-refueling stations to its 10,900 locations in North America, but it does have electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations at several sites in Illinois, New York and Texas. It also is tapping into clean energy, most recently signing an agreement with a local utility to have more than 400 of its Texas stores powered by wind energy, to help cut its carbon footprint.