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The SBX is the Electric Microbus We’d Like to See on Our Roads

At the recently-concluded 2nd Philippine Auto & Parts Expo (PhilAPEX), of the handful of jeepneys and buses on display that are qualified for the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), one unit stood out for its cute look and diminutive size: the SBX.

Manufactured by AssemblePoint, a Japanese company engaged in electric vehicle manufacturing and consultancy,the SBX is a new type of public transportation system that Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is promoting for Southeast Asia.

The SBX was developed over two years and has undergone testing in both the Yatsugatake mountain range and the Fuji Speedway.

Development of the SBX started in May 2015 as an alternative to the tricycles that dot the roads of the countries in the ASEAN region like Philippines, India, Cambodia, and Thailand. In July 2017, the first prototype was completed and by January 2018, pilot testing of the SBX as a public utility vehicle transport started in Intramuros in the city of Manila.

The SBX was conceived as a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) transport system “that covers the Last One Mile from the terminal of such as the railroad.” As such, the SBX as a public utility vehicle will serve as the last vehicle for commuters to use to transport them from their last drop-off point to their homes. In a similar application, and one that it is very apt for, the SBX has been in use to transport people around the small and tight streets of Intramuros, reaching places where the traditional, old-fashioned jeepneys can’t.

Powering the SBX is a 5.3 kw electric motor through a swappable 3.8-kwH lithium-ion battery that can propel the vehicle up to a maximum speed of 40 kph and a range of 60 kilometers when driven at a constant speed of 20 kph. And since a depleted battery can be exchanged with a fully-charged one within five minutes, the SBX can operate around the clock.

In the Philippines, the SBX pilot program is operated by MC Metro Transport Operation, Inc. (MMTOI), the same company that operates the electric tricycles in use within Intramuros as well.

Although a price has not yet been set for would-be local operators of the SBX, MMTOI will offer its lithium-ion battery at a rate of PHP200 per day–once the SBX is operational, of course.

If there’s enough demand for the SBX locally, MMTOI and SoftBank are supposedly looking at manufacturing the microbus locally as well.

AssemblePoint and SoftBank still aren’t done with the SBX though as there are plans to make it capable of platooning–having one or two cars follow the lead car automatically, similar to how a train engine pulls the train cars behind it–and to make it a self-driving shuttle service.

      Prototype Production
Riding Capacity Driver+Passenger 1+8 1+10
Body Dimension Overall Length (mm) 3120 3670
Overall Width (mm) 1620 1680
Overall Height (mm) 1985 2045
Wheelbase (mm) 2200 2700
Tread Front (mm) 1435 1455
Rear (mm) 1435 1455
Overhang Front (mm) 440 440
Rear (mm) 480 530
Cabin Dimension Step Height (mm) 325 335
Door Width (mm) 610 665
Height (mm) 1500 1500
Cabin Height Ceiling (mm) 1470 1550
Roofbow (mm) 1405 1500
Gangway (mm) 700 800
Seatback Distance (mm) 1440 1500
Width (mm) 1570 2000
Seat Cushion Width (mm) 1630 2000
Depth (mm) 370 350
Weight Curb Weight (kg) 555 590
Gross Vehicle Weight (kg) 1095 1250
Tires Front  155/65R14 155/65R14
Rear 155/65R14 175/70R14
Minimum Ground Clearance  (mm) 140 165
Minimum Turning Radius  (m) 4.4 5
Motor Rated Power (kw) 5.3
Battery Capacity (kWh) 3.8
Type Li-ion
Performance Maximum Speed (kph) 40
Hill Climbing (%) 25
E-Power Consumption NA 8.4
Range (km @ 20 kph) 60


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