Two Japanese companies, Hitachi and Hino Motors, have been working together to create buses equipped with rechargeable batteries that might prove useful in case of disaster. The “midsize plug-in hybrid buses for disasters”, as they were described by the two makers, can be used to provide electricity in calamity situations.
The buses can supply electric power for up to 10 hours a day over a week to a space as big as a gymnasium that acts as an evacuation center, all while in a power-saving mode, according to the local press.
They also feature a global positioning system (GPS) that is used to identify safe areas for evacuation in case of emergency. The buses were created to have a medium size because during the Great East Japan Earthquake the big buses proved to be an impediment in passing through narrow roads.
The buses were tested by drivers for a week in December in the city of Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, in order to collect information on how road slopes and numbers of passengers could affect the power consumption from the bus.
Results from the analysis of data will help both Hitachi and Hino establish guidelines on the utilization of the buses, including locations for charging the vehicle during disaster times.