As it becomes another automobile company not wanting to be known as an automobile company, Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. said sales have started of the Sora which the company said is the first fuel cell bus to receive vehicle type certification in the country.
Toyota said it expects to introduce 100 fuel cell buses, mainly in the Tokyo area, ahead of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and said the vehicle is called Sora because it is “an acronym for Sky, Ocean, River, Air, representing the earth’s water cycle.”
The bus typifies Toyota’s recently launched “Start Your Impossible” global corporate initiative to “transform the company from an automobile company to a mobility service company.”
Back to the bus. Toyota said its key features include the Toyota Fuel Cell System which was developed for the Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle, and which, the company added, has been leveraged to realize high environmental performance with no carbon dioxide emissions or so-called Substances of Concern emitted when in operation, as well as quiet comfort with minimal vibration.
The Sora is equipped with a high-capacity external power output device, which can provide high output and a large capacity of electricity supply (9 kW maximum output, and electricity supply of 235 kWh) and which has potential use as an emergency power source. The 79-person capacity vehicle also has ten high-pressure hydrogen tanks.
Another key feature, said Toyota, is an acceleration control function which suppresses sudden acceleration and enables smooth acceleration from complete stops. This, the company said, enhances the safety of standing passengers. Also, as the bus is not motor operated, there is no gear shifting, resulting in minimal lurching, the company added.
Eight high-definition cameras are fitted inside and outside the vehicle to detect pedestrians and bicyclists around the bus providing a field of vision support camera system. When at bus stops, the system warns the driver of surrounding pedestrians and bicyclists through sound notifications and images thereby improving safety, said Toyota.
In developing the Sora, Toyota said it has sought to “design buses that provide customers with freedom of mobility and become enduring town icons.”
The company expects that as the number of fuel cell buses in operation within the Tokyo metropolitan area increases it anticipates “greater awareness of the vehicle among the general public.”