Tyrano Hydrogen Powered Truck from Vision

The Tyrano is definitely a great option for trucking companies who want to be able to move freight, lower their fuel and maintenance costs, and drop their emissions impact to almost zero. The tax and other advantages of the trucks are likely to make them hot sellers.
tyrano

by Aaron Turpen

Specs:

  • Type:
  • Class: Class 8 Heavy Truck
  • Manufacturer: Vision Industries
  • Propulsion system: Hydrogen-Electric Hybrid
  • Top Speed: 55 / 70mph (optional limiter)
  • Vehicle range: 200-400 miles (depending on options)
  • Fuel(s): Compressed Hydrogen (H2)
  • Torque/Horsepower: 3,300lb-ft / 536hp (peak)
  • Price: Not Announced
  • Availability: Early 2010

The manufacturer says

The Tyrano heavy duty class 8 truck is 35% cheaper to operate than current diesel powered trucks and 50% cheaper than liquefied natural gas.

Overview

One of the largest users of petroleum fuels in the United States is the transportation industry, especially trucking. Taking advantage of both the heavy smog restrictions, huge California subsidies (up to $40,000 federal and nearly that locally), and $70/container smog fee waiver for alt-fuel trucks, the Tyrano hopes to become a huge seller in the ports and day delivery areas of the Los Angeles area.

Working in cooperation with Freightliner (who supplies the chassis), Vision Industries (or Vision Motor Corporation) has designed, tested, and now received approval from the California Department of Transportation to put their hydrogen fuel cell big trucks on the road.

The Tyrano heavy duty class 8 truck is 35% cheaper to operate than current diesel powered trucks and 50% cheaper than liquefied natural gas.

The day cabs (meaning no sleeper, so it is only run for one shift per driver) are a basic Freightliner Classic chassis with fuel cells under the hood, electric motors on each axle, and compressed hydrogen storage tanks along the frame.

The Tyrano is capable of a massive 3,300 foot pounds of torque and an operating horsepower of about 402hp. This horsepower is deceiving, however, as it is (as with all electric vehicles) 0-max RPM horsepower whereas a diesel engine puts out operating horsepower only inside a small RPM window (usually a window of 400-800 rpms, depending on engine and transmission type and settings).

The torque on the Tyrano is electronically limited to fit the transmission included with the truck. Shifting is different too, requiring no input from the driver other than moving the clutch and lever. Most diesel trucks require the driver to manage the RPMs to match drive shaft to gear speeds. The Tyrano is available with an automatic transmission as well.

Here is video of the Tyrano in action:

The truck is a full Class 8 vehicle, capable of carrying a total of 80,000 pounds (truck+freight). In all respects, outwardly, it is exactly the same as any large tractor-trailer rig on the road. It is capable of more power, better performance, and has no emissions pipe, however. It's also completely quiet.

Options for the Tyrano include 16.5kg of hydrogen storage (for about 180-200 miles range) or 33kg of storage for the full 380-400 miles of range. Refueling takes fifteen minutes, which is about what the Tyrano's diesel counterparts require.

What we like

Power: The Tyrano has a huge amount of power. It outputs about three times the torque of an equivalent diesel-powered truck and is capable of holding speeds no matter the load or grade, making creeping up big hills (a truck driver's least favorite thing next to heavy traffic) a thing of the past.

Quiet, No Emissions: The hydrogen-powered truck is quiet, emits only water, and doesn't sit idling while the driver is on break, getting paperwork, or otherwise not driving. The power for the Tyrano is instant-on.

Easily Adaptable: With federal approval, these trucks could go over the road. Vision Industries has said that there is ample room to ad more hydrogen storage and range could be extended to 800 or 1,000 miles before weight would become an issue.

What we don't

Limited to California: Right now, the Tyrano is limited to California and will not likely get over-the-road to the rest of the U.S. in larger numbers until hydrogen is readily available at the pumping station. Given that, however, the transportation industry is relatively fast to adopt new technologies that give them benefit (such as this, with a much lower operating cost).

Only in a Truck: This is not available in any other vehicle currently, so hydrogen fuel cells are still a future car technology.

Conclusions

The Tyrano is definitely a great option for trucking companies who want to be able to move freight, lower their fuel and maintenance costs, and drop their emissions impact to almost zero. The tax and other advantages of the trucks are likely to make them hot sellers in the LA-area as well. It is only a matter of time before these become more popular nationally.

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