Toyota envisions the fuel cell bus of the future
Toyota has unveiled a concept vehicle to be shown at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, the Sora fuel cell bus. The bus is aimed for production in 2018, with more than 100 of them to be used in the Tokyo metropolitan area ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Sora, which is an acronym for Sky, Ocean, River, Air (the earth's water cycle) is powered by the Toyota Fuel Cell System, developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle. The Sora's powertrain consists of two 114 kW fuel cell stacks and dual drive motors outputting 113 kW and 355 Nm of torque each (152 hp, 262 lb-ft). A relatively small nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery is also on board, as are a total of 10 hydrogen tanks with a total capacity of 600 liters.
In addition to its powertrain for people-moving, the Sora fuel cell bus is also capable of outputting power during emergencies or disasters, offering 9 kW of maximum output with a total supply of 235 kWh when fully fueled.
Inside, the Sora is designed to carry up to 79 passengers, with 22 seated, 56 standing, and one driver. The Sora's total length is 10,525 mm (34 feet, 6 inches), width is 2,490 mm (8 feet, 2 inches), and height is 3,340 mm (10 feet, 11 inches). Its interior design is aimed toward accommodating varying number of passengers with varied requirements.
Horizontal seating in the Sora can be folded up to allow strollers or wheelchairs to occupy their space. A low entry height allows easier access for less mobile passengers to more easily get in and out of the Sora as well.
From a technological standpoint, the Toyota Sora has peripheral monitoring, acceleration control, automatic arrival control, and vehicle-to-X communications. Peripheral monitoring utilizes eight high-definition cameras inside and outside of the Sora to detect pedestrians, bicycles, and other obstacles in order to alert the driver through sound and with images.
Acceleration control suppresses sudden acceleration from a stop, and because there is no gear shifting in the Sora fuel cell bus, lurching from the drivetrain is also eliminated. Boarding and exiting is further eased by the automatic arrival control system, which steers the bus into its stop to 3-6 cm (1.1-2.3 inches) from the bus stop edge and within 10 cm (3.9 inches) from the bus stop's fore or aft stop position. This improves boarding clearances for passengers, especially those pushing strollers or in a wheelchair.
Finally, the Toyota Sora utilizes ITS Connect, a vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications system that helps support safe driving. This allows priority traffic signalling at equipped intersections, it allows vehicle convoys, and allows for future expansion of the technology.
The Toyota Sora fuel cell bus concept will be on display in Tokyo at the upcoming auto show starting October 25.