Unsurprisingly, it appears that the new age of personalized transportation will be making its debut in Japan before the rest of the world. Earlier this week, we learned that Nissan is looking to begin testing their Autonomous Driving system in Japan, in addition to the Nissan Mobility Concept already in use.
Now, coming from the very same CEATEC show as the AD Nissan Leaf, we have another official contender in the race for perfect personal mobility in the Toyota i-Road EV. We’ve just learned that Toyota’s quirky little concept from the 2013 Geneva Motor Show is officially headed for production. And soon, too… Toyota wants to have a fleet of 100 i-Road EVs available by the beginning of 2014.
However, it should be noted that these i-Road EVs won’t be available for normal resale. Instead, Toyota will use these 100 “personal mobility” vehicles for their nubile Japanese car-sharing system called Ha:mo, which is exclusively available in Toyota City.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ha:mo, it’s an “urban transport system designed to provide transport that is commendable to users, cities in society as a whole by optimally combining personal mobility vehicles… with public transportation.” With a driving radius of 30 miles and a top speed of 28mph, the new batch of Toyota i-Road EVs would obviously fulfill the personal mobility side of the system. But, their true selling point is the unique Active Lean System. This system, which uses two independent motors on the front wheels to adjust the lean of the body, makes it all too easy for the i-Road to navigate tight city streets safely and quickly.
Confirmation of the Toyota i-Road’s production is just one of several upcoming changes to Toyota’s car-sharing system.
In addition to the 100 extra i-Roads being integrated into Ha:mo, Toyota will also be adding 90 “COMS” car-sharing EVs throughout October. They’ll also add 52 Yamaha power-assisted bikes to their fleet, with an additional 40 likely by the end of the year. All of these new vehicles will allow Ha:mo to expand the number of check-in stations in Toyota City from four to 21 by the end of October. Each of the new stations will be aimed at high-traffic areas, such as train stations and office parks, where drivers are likely to need the most transport. The additional stations will make it easier for drivers to utilize Ha:mo’s one-way feature, which allows you to pick up an EV at one vehicle station and drop it off at another.
In addition to the expansions for Ha:mo’s fleet and vehicle stations, Toyota will also be experimenting with new fee systems. Basically, they want to make sure that their efforts are going to pay off when all is said and done. Apparently, a significant part of the current usability experiments will be determining how altering fees between regular and one-time users affects total profits.
Unfortunately, we have no idea when or if the Toyota i-Road “personal mobility” vehicle will ever make it outside of Japan. It seems unlikely that it would happen before 2015, but we may learn more at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. Until then, thanks for reading!