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Kumamoto University project to use Nissan LEAF technology in electric bus test in Japan; 3 packs, 3 motors

Technology developed by Nissan for the battery-electric Nissan LEAF will be used in an electric bus project led by a team from Kumamoto University, that starts testing next month in Japan, with the goal of making zero-emission public transit more widespread and affordable.

The bus, named “Yoka ECO Bus,” will feature three batteries, three electric motors and an inverter from the Nissan LEAF. Nissan is also developing a dedicated gearbox for the bus and offering technical support. The company hopes the technology can help the project achieve its goal of creating environmentally friendly buses for public transportation systems in Japan.



The initiative brings together talent and expertise from the automotive industry, government and academia. It is part of the university’s ongoing involvement with a Japanese Ministry of Environment project that aims to reduce or eliminate CO2 and other emissions from larger vehicles such as buses and trucks. Real-world testing is scheduled to begin in February in Kumamoto City in western Japan.

An obstacle in creating large electric vehicles has been the high cost of development and parts, including batteries and electric motors. By using technology already conceived and perfected by Nissan, the cost of manufacturing electric buses can be greatly reduced.

We hope to improve Japan’s environment by standardizing the manufacturing of EV buses with help from the know-how of automakers. Our goal is to develop EV buses that are well-balanced in terms of being friendly to the environment and having low development costs.

—Toshiro Matsuda, Kumamoto University project leader


Christopher Miles

Any first thoughts on Price/Range?

Benefits of this approach vs. the latest from Proterra, BYD, Volvo or NewFlyer?


This is a smart idea that others could follow.

Why reinvent the wheels for every new e-vehicle if not to raise cost.

Volvo Canada has spent a few $ 100M of tax payers money in the last few (4+ years) to design and test new city e-buses priced at 50% to 70% over existing diesel units.


It's just scale of production at this point. It cost plenty of time and testing to develop new powertrains. It will save them millions of dollars doing this rather than developing new drivetrains.
I'd be curious as to if this bus had 3 full leaf powertrains inside, just com linked together to drive it forward.


It is just a student project which is OK as it provides some real world education but it is highly unlikely to result in a real world product. Anyway, it sounds like a good project.

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) sponsors a number of student competitions for the same purpose of providing real world engineering experience. I have been the advisor for students at the local university participating in FormulaSAE where the student build a small formula-type race car. We were using a restricted motorcycle engine limited to 600 cc but for the past 2 years we have entered the electric car version which is limited to 80KW. This is probably one the best experiences engineering students have to gain some real world engineering

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