The Toyota-Hino FCHV-BUS2 has become the first fuel cell-powered bus to be certified for use on Japanese public roads by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

Field tests of the low-floor, easy-access commuter bus that runs on gaseous hydrogen stored in high-pressure tanks-are due to begin shortly.

TMC is actively pursuing the development of fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHVs), which derive their propulsive force from fuel cells and a secondary battery, and plans to begin limited marketing of an FCHV passenger vehicle in both Japan and the US around the end of this year.

The new bus is an improvement on an earlier design and four units, starting with a version capable of carrying 60 people, have been road-certified.

The bus stores its hydrogen in roof-mounted hydrogen storage tanks and the new version has two high-performance Toyota FC Stacks, each with an output of 90kW, for double the performance specifications of the earlier model which has only one stack. The latest model’s motors have a maximum output of 80kW x 2 and maximum torque of 260Nm x 2.

The hybrid system, in which the secondary battery stores energy regenerated during braking, precisely regulates electric supply to the motor depending on the vehicle's operational status for highly efficient operation.

The planned tests on public roads will be conducted in conjunction with related projects promoted by the Japanese government and other entities. Through these tests, TMC and Hino hope to verify the performance of their proprietary fuel cell system, collect various performance data from the viewpoint of commuter bus operation and enhance development toward commercialisation.