Sep. 30, 2022

Electric Bus Unveiling Ceremony Held

Sumitomo Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation Kyushu Co., Ltd. ("Sumitomo Corporation Group"), joined with Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd., and Nishitetsu Bus Kitakyushu Co., Ltd. "Nishitetsu Group"), to hold an unveiling ceremony for an electric bus modified from a used diesel bus (“retrofitted (※) electric bus") at the Nishitetsu Bus Kitakyushu’s Kokura Office in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture on June 22, 2022. The retrofitted electric bus began operating on June 27, 2022 on a route connecting Kokura, Kurosaki, and Orio in Kitakyushu City.

  • The modification of outdated machinery to improve performance and add new functions

At the unveiling ceremony, Sumitomo Corporation Kyushu President Takahashi enthusiastically declared that “We will utilize the resources of the Sumitomo Corporation Group to expand the introduction of electric buses as part of our efforts to realize a sustainable society,” while Nishi-Nippon Railroad Managing Director Shimizu expectantly commented, “I hope this electric bus will serve as a billboard for publicizing our efforts to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) to city residents.” Kitakyushu City Buildings and City Planning Bureau Director Uemura, who attended as a guest, offered words of encouragement to all personnel involved: “I would like to see the success of this initiative in Kitakyushu City spread both domestically and internationally." These remarks were followed by a test drive of the retrofitted electric bus, which was praised by numerous passengers for its quiet, smooth and comfortable ride. Participants were then shown the vehicle being charged and informed that the bus can also be used as an emergency power source in the event of a disaster. The guests thus gained a feel for the benefits of electric buses, and the day boosted expectations for the expanded introduction of electric buses in future.

The electric bus
Photo of the ceremony

Electric buses are expected to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in public transportation but there is a cost issue: electric buses cost nearly twice as much as diesel buses. To resolve this cost issue, the Sumitomo Corporation Group and the Nishitetsu Group collaborated with RAC Electric Vehicles Inc. ("RAC"), Taiwan’s largest electric bus manufacturer and a company in which Sumitomo Corporation acquired a stake in 2019, to develop the retrofitted electric bus. The Taiwanese automobile parts manufacturer Mobiletron Electronics Co., Ltd., is a major RAC shareholder, and Sumitomo Corporation has built a relationship with Mobiletron Electronics by supplying in-vehicle batteries. The battery packs and many other key components in RAC’s electric buses are made by Mobiletron Electronics and, by utilizing proven parts, RAC has delivered more than 200 electric buses since it was established in 2005, garnering high regard from within Taiwan as well as abroad.

The recently introduced retrofitted electric bus was remodeled in Taiwan, but future plans call for parts to be imported from Taiwan and retrofitting to be carried out in Japan with the Nishitetsu Group’s Nishitetsu Auto Body Tech Co., Ltd. Utilizing RAC’s know-how, the Sumitomo Corporation Group and the Nishitetsu Group will retrofit vehicles in Japan to expand the introduction of low-cost electric buses throughout the country and thereby help build sustainable public transportation systems.

Battery Monitor on the electric bus
Taiwan RAC electric bus