Free Hybrid Electric Buses at Tokyo's Haneda Airport

Tokyo Hybrid Electric Bus Haneda Airport Photo

What is there not to like about the new shuttle buses at Tokyo's Haneda Airport - the hybrid electric buses save energy and have less air pollution. They are more quiet and the ride is smooth as silk. Plus they are free. Hino has supplied one while Mitsubishi Fuso supplied three: these cool vehicles now link Haneda's first, second and international terminals, covering a distance of about 4.2 kilometers, and in one day, they may each travel up to 300 km.

Eike Böhm, Vice President of Product Engineering for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, notes:

The challenge to reduce CO2 emissions already exists. Technologies for reducing consumption, such as hybrid drive, are now gaining significance; and customer demand is changing to the same extent. We want to have mature hybrid solutions ready for application.

Tokyo Hybrid Electric Bus Battery Illustration

"Lithium-ion batteries are very expensive, and our customers therefore don't want to replace them at any time during the service life of the bus," says Yuta Susuki, project leader at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corporation. That's why the batteries have to withstand ten years of daily operation and more than 500,000 km (300,000 miles) of driving.

The engineers had to come up with a clever strategy to ensure that charging and discharging processes put as little strain on the battery as possible. That wasn't easy, given that the battery is involved in every acceleration and braking maneuver. The brakes are the key here, as the bus recovers some of the energy invested in accelerating every time it brakes. By comparison, the braking process in conventional vehicles produces only useless heat.

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