Solving the problem of urban transportation has vexed town planners since the days of Julius Caesar. It isn't just a matter of coming up with a better bus or shared cars. Unless you want people to end up slogging the last mile of their journey in the rain, a city’s transportation system needs to be comprehensive and integrated. The French city of Grenoble is taking a stab at the problem by introducing Toyota's Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) system into its broader transport management scheme.

Grenoble already has a car-sharing system called Citélib that provides vehicles capable of carrying two to nine passengers, as well as a fleet of 5,000 shared bicycles and electric trams, which have been operating since 1987. In partnership with Toyota and French energy company EDF, the city is now using Ha:mo to make its current transport system smarter and more integrated.

Part of a three-year project, Grenoble will be a real-world test of an integrated urban transportation system; promoting a transition to an electrically-powered system that is more environmentally friendly, makes less noise, and is free of local carbon dioxide emissions. The partners see this as a way to provide the last mile of transportation options between the long and medium range transportation systems and the users’ ultimate destinations. As such it is designed to enable seamless transitions from personal vehicles, to trams, to short-range electric cars.

Toyota is supplying 70 ultra-compact electric vehicles consisting of the single-seater, 4-wheel Toyota COMS, and the two-seater, 3-wheel Toyota i-Road, which combines the handling of a scooter with the stability of a car. Four of these vehicles occupy the footprint of one conventional car.

Toyota is also installing its Ha:mo data management system, which integrates the new electric vehicles with the existing management system for buses and trams, as well as route planning for shared electric cars and other forms of transport using a smartphone.

Grenoble will be the first Ha:mo system that Toyota has installed outside of Japan, and the smartphone app will aid users in finding the fastest, most efficient route for travel.

Meanwhile, EDF is providing 30 charging stations, while its subsidiary, Sodetrel, manages the charging infrastructure for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, as well as car-sharing services. The partners hope that by integrating the electric cars with the new management system and smartphone control it will not only relieve commuter stress, but will also reduce parking pressures, ease traffic, and improve air quality.

"To become the city of tomorrow, Grenoble must be both attractive economically, and a nice place to live." says Christian Missirian, Director of EDF Commerce Rhone-Alpes Auvergne. "Electric mobility offers a good measure of both, by allowing different types of transport to complement one another. It brings together traditional types of transport with innovative ones such as this type of last-mile mobility brought about with this project."

Citizens of Grenoble can pre-register with Citélib and receive time credits for when the service goes online in October.

The video below explains the Ha:mo system.

Source: Toyota