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Kawasaki Heavy to Test NiMH-Powered Light Rail Vehicle

Nikkei. Kawasaki Heavy Industries will begin test runs in October of a light rail vehicle powered by a NiMH battery.

A Kawasaki light rail vehicle, in use in Hong Kong.

The light rail car will be able to use power from overhead catenaries as well as the on-board batteries, which are installed below the passenger seats. The light rail car supports regenerative braking to recharge the batteries.

Kawasaki will market the train for use in areas that cities want to keep clear of overhead wires.

European rolling stock manufacturers Alstom and Lohr have been working with Saft NiMH batteries on similar light-rail vehicles for use in cities that want to keep historic areas clear of the catenaries. (Earlier post.)



Every battery sold for electrifying transportation is another rejection for using ICEs; with all the benefits burning less fossil fuel brings. Don't forget Kawasaki is also into personal transportation and decisions about manufacturing ICEs. Perhaps success with this project will help point them in the direction of supporting BEVs. As you may realize, support of PHEVs and BEVs by the major transportation companies is critical to developing an large electric car industry.


Interesting notion here of trams (or railcars) which can use batteries to "hop" between overhead catenaries to avoid visual pollution in tourist areas.

I wonder could you generalize the idea to PHEVs and have local, high speed recharging points on roads - for when cars are stuck at traffic lights, or for light trucks or whatever.
The idea being to extend the battery life of urban vehicles to avoid ICE pollution.

Perhaps you could recharge taxis at taxi ranks.

PHEVs offer so many ways of reducing fossil fuel consumption, once you think about the possibilities.

This application is in operation with trams in one or two Swiss cities. It avoids having overhead cables in many critical city areas.

It could also be used with electric city buses to reduce overhead electrical cables lenght and eliminate them in given areas.

With more batteries, trams and electric buses could do without 50%+ of the overhead cables and eventually recharge at every planned stops only. Super Caps may help.


The Russians had an ultracap powered bus that only stopped every now and again for a 1 minute recharge at designated overhead wires.


At this point even the technology (whether battery, capacitors, or a combo) to enable vehicles to 'hop' complicated intersections and small, historically significant areas would be a significant step forward. On electric buses there would also have to be some kind of sensor technology to allow the pantograph to 're-acquire' the dual catenaries properly. Some kind of helper vehicle would have to be on standby to push stranded vehicles if their battery/capacitor system became fully discharged in the middle of a 'gap', but that would be a fairly trivial requirement.

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