Keio University, Isuzu Motors Ltd, the Kanagawa prefectural government and others announced Aug 6, 2009, that they will jointly develop a large-size electric bus.

They plan to complete the development by autumn 2010 and start to test the vehicle for volume production in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2011. This project was selected as the industry-academic-government project of Japan's Ministry of the Environment and granted a total of ¥500 million (approx US$5.16 million).

The project is aimed at prototyping an electric bus that has a flat and low-height floor based on the "Eliica," an electric vehicle developed by Keio University. Isuzu Motors will design the body, and Toshiba Corp intends to provide its Li-ion secondary battery with a capacity of 120kWh.

The electric bus will run 150km per charge. In Japan, the travel distance of a normal shuttle bus is about 120km per day. Tokyo Electric Power Co will establish infrastructures for charging the bus.

"Based on our calculation, the price of the vehicle including the battery will become equivalent to that of a diesel engine bus if 500 units are produced," said Hiroshi Shimizu, who conceived the Eliica as a professor of the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies at Keio University. "Meanwhile, the running cost of the bus will be 1/10 that of a diesel engine bus. So, the total cost will be about half that of a diesel engine bus."