Studio Ghibli & Toyota Are Building Rideable, Electric-Powered Catbuses
By Mikelle Leow, 13 Feb 2023
Studio Ghibli’s idea of making the daily commute less mundane for animation? Buses that are also cats. Soon, fans can live out this fantasy with real-life Catbuses that shuttle around Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, where the new Ghibli Park is situated.
The concept is being made paw-ssible thanks to Toyota, which has been tasked with creating half a dozen Catbuses, reports SoraNews24. It helps that the automaker’s headquarters are in Aichi, the same prefecture that the Studio Ghibli theme park calls home (side note: My Neighbor Toyota was not on our 2023 bingo card).
In line with the scenic, nature-forward surroundings, the feline vehicles will be electric-powered. Specifically, the Toyota APM, a low-speed battery electric model that was originally designed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will now be given a second—or ninth—life as the basis of the Catbuses.
The vehicles will be overhauled with special wrapping to replicate the appearance of the Catbus in My Neighbor Totoro.
Each real-world Catbus will consist of three rows and seat up to six—with the driver’s seat in the first row, capacity for three passengers in the middle row, and seating for two people at the back. In comparison with automobiles, it’s slow-moving, traveling at a speed that’s more like the character’s crawling than actual driving. On that note, it’s worth reiterating that the “buses” won’t release exhaust gasses into the air.
As per Toyota’s news release announcing the APM in 2019, the mobility vehicle is suited for passengers with physical disabilities as its seats can be folded to leave room for a wheelchair rider in the second row.
The Catbuses will be a Ghibli Park attraction in their own right, proclaims Hideaki Omura, the governor of Aichi Prefecture.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the mystical meowbiles should be rolled out by the end of March 2024, connecting park-goers to segregated zones of Ghibli Park.
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