Toyota has unveiled two fuel-cell concept vehicles – a premium six-seat sedan-styled vehicle and a 79-seat bus – both of which use hydrogen as the primary energy source.
The Fine-Comfort Ride concept sedan envisages high performance motoring with a 310kW motor delivering a top speed of 220km/h, a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.4 seconds and a range of approximately 1,000km on a single fill.
It focuses on hydrogen and renewable energy, with an exterior design which adopts a diamond-shaped cabin that narrows towards the rear, offering maximum space for occupants while achieving excellent aerodynamic performance.
The flexible layout is made possible by adopting an in-wheel motor, positioning the wheels at the very corners of the vehicle, and utilising a body underside cover for the ride stability and quietness expected in a premium car.
The fuel-cell stack is located at the front of the vehicle while the hydrogen tank is under the floor. The Fine-Comfort Ride delivers quiet, smooth running and makes full use of the large amount of electricity provided by hydrogen as its energy source.
It incorporates artificial intelligence and automated driving based on the company’s Mobility Teammate Concept in which the car watches over the driver as needed and assists the driver as needed. The interior design concept is about being wrapped in comfort with the advance autonomous functions and the touch display arranged around the driver and passenger seats.
Seats allow for flexible adjustment according to posture, and the displays provide free access to information by the driver and passengers. The seat layout is also flexible; for example, drivers can take their hands off the steering wheel and turn their seat around to converse with passengers.
Fine stands for “Future IN Electrified Vehicle” and Comfort Ride embodies the concept of a comfortable space for transportation, suitable for a next-generation premium car. It is a continuation of the Fine-S fuel-cell concept vehicle unveiled at the Detroit auto show in 2003.
Toyota pursued further possibilities of FCVs through the development of the Fine-Comfort Ride. It offers excellent environmental performance by discharging no CO2 or substances of concern (SoC) while in operation, together with the convenience of a generous cruising range with a hydrogen refuelling time of about three minutes.
The other concept vehicle is the Sora concept bus, which is closer to a production version, with Toyota planning to start sales next year and introduce more than 100 of these buses ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Toyota developed the Sora concept bus to make best use of the characteristics of the fuel-cell unit and to enhance the comfort of passengers travelling on bus routes. Toyota’s fuel-cell system developed for the Mirai, has been adopted to deliver superior environmental performance with no CO2 emissions or substances of concern emitted when in operation.
The Sora uses two 114kW fuel-cell stacks and two 113kW, 335Nm electric motors with 10 high-pressure hydrogen tanks offering 600 litres of hydrogen capacity. It is equipped with a high-capacity external power supply system, providing high maximum output of 9kW and 235 kWh supply.
This enables the bus to be used as an emergency power source. For example, it can power evacuation sites such as school gymnasiums and community centres for about five days with lights on for six hours per day (50 kWh per day).
Toyota paid close attention to convenience, safety and peace of mind. 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.
For the safety of standing passengers, an acceleration control function enables gentle acceleration from stops. There is no lurching due to the lack of a need for gear shifting. Seats automatically fold up when not in use to provide space for strollers or wheelchairs.
The concept bus also envisages futuristic features that will not be available on the production model released next year – ITS (Intelligent Transport System) Connect and automatic arrival control. Toyota aims to introduce these features as the infrastructure is able to facilitate them.
ITS Connect boosts bus transportation capability, speed, punctuality and convenience. The system utilises 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.
Automatic arrival control improves boarding and exiting by detecting the guidance line on the road surface and using automatic steering and deceleration to stop the bus. It ensures approximately 3 to 6 cm of clearance from the bus stop, and stopping within 10 cm ahead of or behind the bus stop position.
Sora is an acronym for Sky, Ocean, River, Air – representing the earth’s water cycle.