Toyota Sora Fuel Cell Bus To Debut In Tokyo

4 weeks ago by Adrian Padeanu 14

Toyota Sora

Likely one of the biggest vehicles heading to Tokyo, the Sora offers seating for 79 people.

Much like the Fine-Comfort Vehicle, the new Toyota Sora adopts a fuel cell power-train and is a concept.

This is where the similarities end as while the former is a six-seater sedan, the latter aims to see into the near future of public transportation. It’s more than just for show as the bus will actually spawn a production version as early as next year when more than 100 units will be deployed onto the streets of Tokyo’s metropolitan area ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

If you’re wondering about the name, it’s an abbreviation of the words “sky,” “ocean,” “river,” and “air” as a nod to the earth’s water cycle to bridge a connection with the concept’s Mirai-derived fuel cell setup that emits only water. The new bus is able to accommodate up to 79 people (22 seated, 56 standing, and the driver) and comes equipped with no less than 10 high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

Toyota Sora

Compared to conventional buses that have a boxy body, Toyota wishes to point the Sora has been designed with a stereoscopic shape to make it stand out. LED headlights and taillights lend the concept a high-tech look, but it’s the interior that truly sets it apart from the current crop of buses roaming the streets of Japan’s capital.

The Sora is the first bus in Japan to feature eight HD cameras installed inside and outside to monitor everything that’s going on around the bus. Whenever something is detected, be it a bicycle or a pedestrian, the driver receives visual and audio warnings. Another premiere for a bus from the Land of the Rising Sun is the acceleration control function that surpasses sudden acceleration to guarantee a smooth acceleration at all times.

The Sora also marks the debut of an automatic arrival control system in Japan as the bus is smart enough to detect the guidance line on the road to automatically steer and brake the bus with around three to six centimeters (1.1 to 2.3 inches) from the bus stop and within 10 cm (4 in) ahead of or behind the bus stop position. Toyota says this feature particularly helps with loading and unloading wheelchairs and strollers.

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14 responses to "Toyota Sora Fuel Cell Bus To Debut In Tokyo"

  1. SparkEV says:

    I don’t know how much H costs in Japan, but it costs over $16/kg in San Diego. At that price, you might as well hire taxis (or Uber) for door to door service.

  2. Robert Lang says:

    Yeah. The target price for hydrogen is $4/kg. The cost would need to be very close to that target for viability, unless drastically subsidized by manufacturers. The cost is California ranges from $13 to $16 /kg

    1. SJC says:

      Shell is $10 in L.A. but a lot of that is to pay off equipment. It takes two therms of natural gas at 50 cents each to make a kg.

  3. Someone out there says:

    Hydrogen could have a place in the future when electricity is 100% renewable. In order to cover the last few % of energy use we would have to have enormous amounts of overcapacity or storage. Probably a combination of both. Unfortunately storing large amounts of energy for a long time in batteries are not very cost-effective so hydrogen could very well play a part there. And since we already need a hydrogen infrastructure to cover other other needs, we could just as well run our cars on it.
    Yes it is true that hydrogen cars are not as energy efficient as battery cars but they might not need to be.
    This is likely far off in the future though like 2050 or later. As of right now battery cars looks better and if there is a massive battery development maybe hydrogen never get its time.

  4. William says:

    Any Hydrogen Bus is better than the Diesel alternative. Now, if the stored Hydrogen came from current non existent windmill surplus electricity, that would be a big help, even if the cost was not a significant factor in overall affordability.

    1. Leaf2012 says:

      But replacing two or three diesel buses with BEV buses is better than replacing one diesel bus with H2 bus. As long as a BEV bus is cheaper, and more energy efficient i don’t see the point of spending so much money on H2 development where it is not needed.

      We have had H2 buses running in Norway for several years, this year the bus company wanted to replace them with dieselbuses because diesel were cheaper to run. And this already had their own H2 production facility (from electricity) paid by the government. And we have both higher fuel prices and lower electricity prices than US.

      The government had to pay them extra millions of USD just to keep the H2 buses running a few years more, for the science of it.

      About the same amount was also given to BEV buses in the same city, but here it covered the difference in buying BEV buses, and the charging infrastructure for the same amount of buses.

      After a few years the H2 buses will be shut down cause the money is spent, while the BEV buses will have saved fuel cost and that saving could be used to replace even more dieselbuses. Probably we will soon switch to all BEV buses.

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        Leaf2012:

        Norway is quite unique country in Europe and in the world that has access to cheap hydro power and few natural disasters to disrupt electric grid. Few countries in the world have similar situation.

  5. Philip Reeve says:

    “Compared to conventional buses that have a boxy body, Toyota wishes to point the Sora has been designed with a stereoscopic shape to make it stand out.”

    I can’t quite understand this comment; the bus shown in the image accompanying the article sure looks “boxy” to me! Anyway, what on earth IS a “stereoscopic shape?

    1. philip d says:

      Maybe that front end is cantilevering out so far it’s like a cheap 3D movie effect where it’s coming right at you?

  6. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Sad to see money thrown away on developing yet another “fool cell” science experiment.

    How many “experiments” are needed before Toyota finally acknowledges the reality of thermodynamics, basic physics, and the reality that compressed hydrogen is nearly the most impractical possible fuel for any vehicle other than a booster rocket?

    1. SJC says:

      You like saying “fool cell” you think it makes you seem witty.

    2. facile says:

      What I don’t understand is why Toyota keeps making concepts of Fuel Cell cars and urban buses. For small vehicles and short distance passenger transport, BEVs will be just fine and cheaper both to make and to run. It is for long distance trips that FCEV may have an advantage. More range and faster to charge/fill. Try an intercity bus or a Semi, that would make sense, not a Mirai.

      1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

        facile:
        “For small vehicles and short distance passenger transport, BEVs will be just fine and cheaper both to make and to run.”

        Yes, and it is Toyota’s strategic plan, maybe a decade old or older, to make smaller commuter vehicles as battery electric.
        Mirai doesn’t qualify as “small” in Japan. “Kei car” is small, like Mitsubishi i-MiEV. It is just US folks who are used to tank size cars, trucks and SUVs. 300+ miles range with 0-100% refueling in few minutes isn’t short distance either, it is replacement of regular car with all the extra features of it.

        I don’t know much about city bus routes in Tokyo, but I imagine you don’t have luxury to take bus off route for charging in 40 million metro area – you need to operate it all day except few hours at night. Probably can be handled by huge and expensive battery too, but what is the benefit? Electricity is expensive in Japan with tiered rates and demand charges, and may just go away after yet another earthquake or typhoon destruction. Peak demand is satisfied by burning oil and strategic goal is reduce electricity consumption, not increase it.

    3. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      Pu-pu definitely wins gold medal for dumbest and most immature comments on Insideevs.

      As for the Pu-pu’s holy “laws of physics” ;))), you may have heard about Steven Chu. He got Nobel prize in physics and then served as Energy Secretary during first term of Obama. Advocated for cutting funding of automotive fuel cell research at the beginning of his term (during economic crisis), as practical application was way too distant in his opinion at that time. At the end of the term he softened his approach somewhat. Lithium metal battery research was one of the fields he was working on as a scientist.

      Now in 2017 he comes to Electrochemical Society meeting in Toyota Mirai, poses for media photo in it, and delivers keynote speech about carbon-free production of hydrogen. Go figure who better knows the physics.

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