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Toy­ota’s road to green-based in­no­va­tion


Plan­ning on go­ing to the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games Tokyo 2020? You may find your­self rid­ing on Toy­ota’s Sora – the first fuel cell bus to re­ceive ve­hi­cle-type cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Ja­pan.

Sora, an an acro­nym for Sky, Ocean, River and Air (the earth’s wa­ter cy­cle), is pow­ered by the Toy­ota Fuel Cell Sys­tem, de­vel­oped for the Mi­rai fuel cell elec­tri­cal ve­hi­cle. The con­cept’s been guided by two prin­ci­ples: to make the best use of the eco-friendly char­ac­ter­is­tics of the fuel cell unit and to cre­ate a bet­ter pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence.

This is based on Toy­ota’s “Start Your Im­pos­si­ble” global cor­po­rate ini­tia­tive, launched last year to trans­form the

or­gan­i­sa­tion from an au­to­mo­bile com­pany to a mo­bil­ity ser­vice com­pany. Toy­ota aims to con­trib­ute to the im­prove­ment of both cus­tomers’ lives and so­ci­ety, as a whole, by cre­at­ing sus­tain­able solutions. At the core of this lies the com­pany’s de­sire to in­no­vate, in­spire and con­trib­ute to a bet­ter fu­ture, and the Sora epit­o­mises that ob­jec­tive.

The bus doesn’t emit CO2 or sub­stances of con­cern, leav­ing only wa­ter vapour in its wake. The sys­tem also has a 9kw ex­ter­nal power sup­ply with a ca­pac­ity of 235kwh, which can be utilised as an emer­gency power sup­ply, when re­quired and pro­vides enough juice to keep lights on for six hours a night, for five nights. In de­vel­op­ing the Sora, Toy­ota’s cre­ated buses that give cus­tomers the free­dom of mo­bil­ity while serv­ing as a local at­trac­tion.

The ve­hi­cle has a ca­pac­ity of 79 in to­tal (22 seated, 56 stand­ing and a driver), and con­tains hor­i­zon­tal seats with an au­to­matic stor­age mech­a­nism, con­sid­ered a first in Ja­pan. The seats au­to­mat­i­cally store flat when not in use, of­fer­ing more space and im­proved con­ve­nience for pas­sen­gers with strollers or wheel­chairs.

Added safety fea­tures in­clude eight high-def­i­ni­tion cam­eras fit­ted in­side and out­side the ve­hi­cle, which im­prove pe­riph­eral mon­i­tor­ing. These de­tect pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists around the bus and warn of im­pend­ing ob­sta­cles through sound no­ti­fi­ca­tions and im­ages. The ve­hi­cle also has a con­trol func­tion that en­ables smooth, lurch-free ac­cel­er­a­tion from be­ing com­pletely sta­tion­ary, resulting in a more com­fort­able ride.

The bus has an au­to­matic ar­rival con­trol sys­tem, which steers it 3-6cm from the bus stop edge and within 10cm of the stop’s fore or aft po­si­tion, al­low­ing pas­sen­gers to board more eas­ily – es­pe­cially those with walk­ing aids or wheel­chairs.

Toy­ota ex­pects to in­tro­duce over 100 fuel cell buses ahead of the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games in 2020, op­er­at­ing mainly within the Tokyo met­ro­pol­i­tan area.


At the core of the Toy­ota Fuel Cell Sys­tem is the Toy­ota fuel cell stack, which gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity by the chem­i­cal re­ac­tion of wa­ter and oxy­gen, and the bat­tery. The sys­tem gen­er­ates elec­tric power to drive the bus and emits only wa­ter – mak­ing this a clean power source.


Step 1: Air/oxy­gen taken in.

Step 2: Oxy­gen and hy­dro­gen sup­plied

to fuel cell stack.

Step 3: Chem­i­cal re­ac­tion gen­er­ates

elec­tric­ity and wa­ter.

Step 4: Elec­tric­ity is sup­plied to

the motor.

Step 5: Motor is ac­ti­vated and the

bus moves.

Step 6: Wa­ter vapour is re­leased.

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