Do-it-yourself (DIY) Hamuran Electric Bus

Published on March 13th, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen


Hamura, Tokyo Starts Electric Bus on Regular Route

Hamuran Electric BusThe city of Hamura, located on the western end of the Tokyo metropolitan area started Japan’s very first regular bus route serviced solely with an electric vehicle last Friday, March 10th. The electric bus is operated and maintained by Nisi Tokyo Bus, and is owned by the city.

A Sense of Community

Hamura City has had community bus routes running since 2005; the bus service, locally known as “Hamuran,” been running the same three routes for the past seven years. The new EV bus route, called “Denki Bus” (or “the electric bus”) by locals, is running a new 4.6 mile route between Hamura Station and Ozaku station on the JR Oume line.

The electric bus will service locations such as City Hall, Hamura’s civic center, and the public library. Each trip – no matter how far along the route a passenger goes – will cost 100 yen, or about $1.20 USD. The vehicle’s charging facilities are outside City Hall, and it will run its route 3 times in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.

Electric Bus Conversion

Hamura’s new electric ride isn’t a production model – it’s a converted version of a Poncho Long. Instead of a conventional combustion engine, the bus has an electric motor with a maximum output of 200kW. The base model for the bus is produced by Hino Motors, and Hino also did the conversion to electric for the city.

A normal ICE Poncho costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 USD, and the electric version’s price tag was four times that of a standard Poncho. The Japanese federal government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government each picked up half the tab, leaving Hamura City with only the cost of additional bus stops and running the bus itself (pretty good deal, if you ask me).

While possibly not entirely cost-effective, The Electric Bus is both cute and zero emission. I’d ride it if I were anywhere in the area, and hopefully more cities will follow Hamura’s example. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: | Image: Hamura City

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

  • Tetsuo Kitagawa Mr.

    Dear Charis,
    We @Hino Motors corporate communications are very glad to see your nice story on Japan’s first commercial operation of EV route-bus in Hamura-city, Tokyo! As far as I know, this is the first report written in English.
    There may be some misunderstanding or mistranslation in your story. Please allow me to correct as follows.
    Three in the morning and four in the afternoon are not time. They are the frequency of operation. So, it should be ” EV bus will be operated three times in the morning and four times in the afternoon”. Although Hamura assembly plant is located in Hamura-city and they are producing Hino brand light-duty trucks, the base model for the bus is not produced there. Actually the base model is produced at the Komatsu-factory of J-Bus company which is the joint venture company of Hino and Isuzu.

    With my best regards,

    Tetsuo Kitagawa
    Hino Motors, Ltd.
    Tokyo, Japan

    • Charis Michelsen

      Thank you! :) The clarification is very much appreciated. The text has been fixed.
      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.

  • Tetsuo Kitagawa Mr.

    Appreciate for your prompt fix of the text!
    Additional information of the EV bus. It installs electric motor and inverter made by U.S. manufacuturer UQM Technologies.
    As for the electrification of the bus, Hino is conducting verification test of its wireless charging hybrid bus with the support by Japanese government. This will be another possibility of commercialization of greener vehicle technology.
    FYI.Hino is the world’s first vehicle manufacturer who developed diesel-electric hybrid bus and put it into the market back in 1991. That was long before Toyota introduced the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car the Prius in 1997!

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