Toyota Motor Corp. introduced August 22 the nation’s first microbus to simultaneously use a gasoline engine and an electric motor, the automaker said.

The Coaster Hybrid EV runs on a “series hybrid” system, which uses a 1.5-liter engine to constantly generate electricity for the electric motor that provides the vehicle’s power. It is the first of its type to be marketed in Japan.

A bus sold by Hino Motors Ltd. uses a “parallel hybrid” system, but it operates differently from the Coaster Hybrid EV. A parallel hybrid vehicle runs on an electric motor until the vehicle reaches a certain speed, at which point it turns off and the gasoline engine takes over.

Because the Coaster Hybrid engine operates at a nearly constant rate, its emissions of nitrogen oxide and other harmful gases are lower. Compared to the ordinary Coaster, which runs on a diesel engine, fuel efficiency is 10 percent better and carbon dioxide emissions are 20 percent less, Toyota officials said.

The vehicle has a maximum speed of 80 kph and a driving range of between 400 km and 500 km, but comes priced at 14 million yen, more than 2.5 times the price of the previous Coaster model.

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