Toyota has begun a feasibility study into the usage of fuel cell technology in HGVs.

Dubbed Project Portal, a zero-emission concept truck will hit the roads this summer in California.

The manufacturer said the hydrogen-fuelled semi-trailer will haul cargo between the busy ports of Los Angeles and nearby Long Beach - "quietly, quickly and without producing any tailpipe emissions".

HGVs create a significant percentage of the annual emissions output at the port, and the trial is one of a number of measures in its Clean Air Action Plan to reduce harmful pollutants.

The concept truck has the power and torque capacity to transport cargo between the two ports while emitting nothing but water vapour.

“Toyota believes hydrogen fuel cell technology has tremendous potential to become the powertrain of the future,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America. "With Project Portal, we are proud to help explore the societal benefits of a zero-emission heavy-duty truck platform."

The truck generates more than 670hp and 1,796Nm of torque from two Mirai fuel cell stacks and a 12kWh battery, which Toyota said is a relatively small battery to support heavy-duty operations.

Its gross combined weight capacity is more than 36.2 tonnes (80,000lb) and its estimated driving range is 320km (200 miles) per fill, under normal operation.

“By bringing this heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell proof-of-concept truck to the port, Toyota has planted a flag that we hope many others will follow,” said Mary Nichols, chair at the California Air Resources Board.

She added: “We will be following the progress of this feasibility study with interest, as we look to develop the best mix of regulations and incentives to rapidly expand the market for the cleanest, most efficient big trucks to meet the need for dramatic change in the freight sector.”

Toyota said Project Portal is just one part of its commitment to fuel cell technology and the potential of a 'hydrogen society'.

It follows the company’s work to expand California’s hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, including a recently announced partnership with Shell to increase the number of hydrogen refuelling stations in the state.