Tokyo to use fuel cell powered buses by Toyota next year

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Global automotive giant Toyota Motor Corp. is fast tracking its efforts to develop fuel cell-powered trucks and buses in their aim to produce more environment friendly vehicles as part of the Japan auto industry’s goal to shift towards electrifying vehicles.

Toyota also revealed that the company is planning to launch carbon dioxide free vehicles mainly in Tokyo next year. Fuel cell vehicles are still better placed than electric vehicles in terms of charging time and longer driving range.

Introduced last year at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Sora fuel cell concept bus runs using a Toyota Fuel Cell System, which was originally developed for the Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan. Executive Vice President Didier Leroy stressed the Sora represents Toyota’s continuing desire to realize a “hydrogen society.”

Toyota plans to develop a bus based on the Sora and supply over 100 units in central Tokyo in time for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen and oxygen to power themselves. Oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a high-pressure tank, are sent to the fuel cell stack, where the two gases are reacted together to generate electricity to power the motor. The only byproduct is water, which is discharged from the vehicle.


The Sora has two fuel cell stacks, two motors and 10 hydrogen tanks so as to increase output. Each tank contains up to 600 mm of hydrogen, about five times the amount on the Mirai. The bus has an external power supply system with an output capacity of 9kW that can generate 235 kilowatt-hours of electricity so that it can be used in emergencies, such as after natural disasters.

The bus also has improved safety features. It is the first bus in Japan to be equipped with an acceleration control system, which prevents sudden acceleration. The ride is made more comfortable for passengers, especially those standing, by eliminating jerky movements caused by shifting gears. Eight high-definition cameras help prevent accidents.

Fuel cell vehicles need less time to charge up with fuel than electric vehicles. They also have longer driving range than their electric cousins. Once the necessary infrastructure, such as hydrogen stations, becomes widely available, fuel cell technology will have a greater advantage for use in buses and commercial trucks that travel on fixed routes. They are also less than internal combustion engine-powered vehicles and more powerful than electrics. “We can make the most of fuel cell vehicles’ advantages,” Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said.

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