Electric buses, hydrogen-powered buses, hybrid buses – public transportation seems to be getting greener and greener. This month, Suntory Holdings of Japan has jumped on the green bandwagon by offering factory tours on battery-powered buses charged at solar-powered stations.
Suntory Holdings is one of the oldest alcohol distributors in Japan, but it’s also well-known for its bottled water – Suntory Tennen Mizu. The company offers tours for those interested in the process at the bottling and distillery plant located in Hokuto City, and now the buses used in those tours are electric.
The tour itself covers about a mile of road within the factory grounds, meaning the bus is never very far from a charging station. As Suntory also wanted to use as little power as possible, they wanted a bus that was light-weight as well as short-range. To that end, they contacted Waseda University.
The university’s department of science and engineering is developing just such a bus, under the guidance of Professor Yushi Kamiya. Rather than a long-range vehicle, the university is striving to develop the most efficient short-range vehicle possible. By reducing the battery capacity, the vehicle can also be lightened and its efficiency increased. In order to also easily use the bus as an emergency power source, standard outlets are installed in the bus’s interior.
A lightweight bus wasn’t quite green enough for Suntory, however, and they also installed solar power arrays at the electric bus charging stations. The goal is to run the buses completely from solar power and have totally zero-emission factory tours.
As publicity stunts go, Suntory’s seems to be doing pretty well – it’s hard to argue with totally green transportation. The next question is how green is the bottling and distillation process…
Source | Image: Green Car View.