Toyota Eco Buses (Z-Capsule & FCHV-BUS2)

All roads seem to lead to Toyota, when it comes to innovative transport. Personal vehicle use, as in a car, is obviously not as eco-effective as sharing the journey, such as with public transport. Even here Toyota are breaking the mould. Their Z-Capsule bus runs on a low-emission, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engine, with a people friendly no-step low floor. But not prepared to stop there, they teamed it with their IMTS project. Intelligent Multimode Transport Systems adjust to changes in demand for services, combining the advantages of dedicated rail lines, with the flexibilty of buses. On dedicated roadways, multiple Z-Capsules can travel unmanned and convoy-like (Toyota call them ‘platoons’) but then be human controlled on a standard street, The driverless trick is possible through magnet markers imbedded in the road. Smoother, faster commutes are said to be possible, leading to the hope that people might even return to public transport and leave their gas-guzzlers at home. IMTS is being put through its real world paces at the upcoming 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan, beginning March.

Until it is widely accepted, they have the FCHV-BUS2. A fuel-cell hybrid bus co-developed with Hino Motors. Begun as project in the early 90’s it is now to the stage where it can travel 300km on a charge. The good news is that its emissions are free of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and PM (particulate matter) while offering a particularly smooth and quiet acceleration. They are still looking for an optimum way of transporting the hydrogen and enabling an easy start in cold weather. Remember fuel cells emit water. And water can freeze at low temps. But they are confident such issues will soon be solved. The FCHV-BUS2 will also be in service at Aichi. [by WM]