Car News

Toyota Shows Concept Fuel Cell Minivan and Bus

Toyota said last week that their hydrogen fuel cell semi truck was starting real world, real cargo testing. Now they're unveiling two fuel cell powered people haulers: a minivan, and a city bus.

The Fine-Comfort Ride is more than just an outstanding name for a vehicle. It's a "new form of premium saloon" with a layout made possible by electric vehicle technology.

The FCR uses a hydrogen fuel cell to provide electricity and a motor in each wheel to provide power. The flat layout means a lower centre of gravity for more stability, and a flat underbody cover that reduces noise.

At 4,830 mm long, the FCR is shorter than a Toyota Sienna van, but at 3,450 mm has a 400 mm longer wheelbase. That increases stability and passenger space. The six-seater has a diamond-shaped body that is widest in the centre, then narrows moving toward the rear. That improves middle-row comfort and makes the Fine-Comfort ride cut through the air more smoothly.

The flexible cabin has a fixed rear bench, but four front captain's chairs that can move around to look like a regular crossover, or turn to be like a living room.

Toyota says that the hydrogen powertrain delivers a bladder-busting 1,000 km range.

The Sora fuel cell bus concept is developed to use the fuel cell system from the Toyota Mirai. And while the name doesn't sound quite as cool as Fine-Comfort Ride, it is actually an acronym. It stands for Sky, Ocean, River, Air, representing the water cycle. That's because the hydrogen used to power the Sora can start as water, and ends as water coming out of the tailpipe.

The Sora has a 9.0 kW maximum system power output, and it can be used as an emergency supply following a disaster that damages the power grid.

Inside, the Sora has multiple cameras to protect passengers, as well as offer pedestrian and cyclist detection. A new acceleration control function makes sure that you won't have your arm pulled out when you're trying to find a seat. It can even automatically detect the lines on the road, as well as the curb, and stop the bus less than six cm from the stop. That's better for passengers boarding with wheelchairs or strollers.

The two hydrogen concepts will debut at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, later this month.