Likely one of the biggest vehicles heading to Tokyo, the Sora offers seating for 79 people.
Much like the Fine-Comfort Vehicle unveiled earlier today, the new Toyota Sora adopts a fuel cell powertrain 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.
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.
As a refresher, the Tokyo Motor Show will kick off October 25th, so in a week from today.
Gallery: Toyota Sora concept
Toyota Unveils FC Bus Concept "Sora"
Toyota City, Japan, October 18, 2017―Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announces the launch of the "Sora1," a Toyota fuel cell bus (FC bus) concept. Toyota plans to launch sales of a commercial model based on the concept vehicle in 2018 and expects to introduce over 100 Sora, mainly within the Tokyo metropolitan area, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Toyota developed the Sora (concept model) based on the vision of an "enduring town icon" guided by two ideas: to make best use of the characteristics of the FC unit; and to enhance the comfort of passengers traveling on bus routes.
- Idea 1
- Service vehicle for the entire community
Toyota aims to create a bus that works for the world and for people, is environmentally friendly, and can contribute to communities beyond its role as a mobility service.
- The Toyota Fuel Cell System (TFCS), which was developed for the Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV), has been adopted to deliver superior environmental performance with no CO2 emissions or Substances of Concern (SoC) emitted when in operation.
- The Sora is equipped with a high-capacity external power supply system, providing high output and a large capacity of electricity supply (9 kW maximum output, and electricity supply of 235 kWh2) and can be used as an emergency power source following disasters.
- Idea 2
- Universal design and function that is people-centered
Because the bus is envisioned to be used by large and varying numbers of passengers at any given time, Toyota paid close attention to convenience, safety, and peace of mind with the aim to give all passengers a pleasant riding experience, so that they would want to ride the buses regularly.
- Horizontal seats with an automatic storage mechanism improves comfort (first in Japan3)
The bus is equipped with horizontal seats with an automatic storage mechanism to provide space for strollers or wheelchairs. This provides extra seating for regular passengers when the space is not needed for strollers or wheelchairs.
- Improved safety from bus peripheral monitoring function (first in Japan3)
Eight high-definition cameras fitted inside and outside the vehicle detect pedestrians and bicycles around the bus, providing a peripheral monitoring function that warns the driver with sound and images to improve safety.
- Improved safety from acceleration control function (first in Japan3)
The acceleration control function suppresses sudden acceleration and enables gentle acceleration from stops, in consideration of the safety of standing passengers. Also, there is no lurching due to the lack of a need for gear shifting.
- Improved ease of boarding and exiting through automatic arrival control4 (first in Japan3)
Adoption of automatic arrival control detects the guidance line on the road surface and uses automatic steering and deceleration to stop the bus with approximately 3 to 6 cm of clearance from the bus stop, and within a range of 10 cm ahead of or behind the bus stop position. This improves boarding and exiting for passengers using strollers or wheelchairs.
- Improved convenience through ITS Connect
Bus transportation capability, speed, punctuality, and convenience is boosted by ITS Connect, which utilizes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications to support safe driving, together with systems that support bus convoys and that provide priority at traffic signals (PTPS5).
The design pursues stereoscopic shaping that significantly differs from the hexahedron (box shape) of conventional buses. It also uses LED for the front and rear lights. Such design features make the FC bus instantly recognizable.
|Length / width / height||10,525 / 2,490 / 3,340 mm|
|Capacity (seated, standing, and driver)||79 (22+56+1)|
|FC stack||Name (type)||Toyota FC Stack (Solid polymer electrolyte)|
|Maximum output||114 kW × 2 units (155 PS × 2 units)|
|Maximum output||113 kW × 2 units (154 PS×2 units)|
|Maximum torque||335 N･m × 2 (34.2 kgf･m × 2)|
|High-pressure hydrogen tank||Number of tanks (Nominal working pressure)||10 (70 MPa)|
|Tank internal volume||600 liters|
|Drive battery||Type||Nickel-metal hydride|
|External power supply system2||Maximum output / power supply amount||9 kW / 235 kWh|
Toyota plans to display the Sora (concept model) at Tokyo Big Sight during the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017. The theme for this year's show, which runs for 12 days from October 25 to November 56, is "Beyond the Motor."