Photokina 2014 highlights

Toyota i-Road EVs trialled for last-mile car-sharing

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March 6, 2014

The Toyota i-Road in use at the Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) vehicle-sharing project in Jap...

The Toyota i-Road in use at the Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) vehicle-sharing project in Japan

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Toyota’s electric i-Road three-wheeler is shaping up as the ideal combination of the best attributes of a motorcycle (maneuverability, lightweight, narrow track, small footprint, low energy consumption, fun) and a car (weather-proof, safe, stable, easy to use) and trials have now begun in Japan using the i-Road and the narrow-track COMS EV in Toyota’s Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) vehicle-sharing project. The i-Road trials will be extended to France later this year when Toyota participates in a vehicle-sharing trial in the city of Grenoble.

Since the i-Road was first announced twelve months ago this week, Toyota has developed the tandem two-seater further with a single-seat version hiding in the new mobility area of the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013, where it was shown among the vehicles to be used for Ha:mo. That's it below with the Ha:mo COMS narrow-track EV from Toyota Motor Body, a Toyota subsidiary.

The Toyota i-Road and the COMS at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

The narrow track of the i-Road combined with its ease-of-use, all-weather and driver protection, could lead to it becoming the star of the narrow-track vehicle class when it is finally released. The vehicle-sharing schemes are enabling Toyota to see how non-motorcyclists feel about the vehicle, as well as promoting its convenience and usability to the public.

Schematic diagram of the French EV-sharing scheme currently being readied for use in Greno...
Schematic diagram of the French EV-sharing scheme currently being readied for use in Grenoble.

Last year Toyota signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Grenoble, the Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, car-sharing service operator Cité lib and French energy provider Électricité de France (EDF) to create a collaborative zero-emission ultra-compact urban car-sharing project specifically addressing "last mile" transportation for public transport users.

Approximately 70 ultra-compact urban electric vehicles will be provided by Toyota for the French self-service car-sharing scheme, including the i-Road and the narrow-track COMS EV from Toyota Auto Body – both vehicles built specifically for urban driving and their efficient use of parking spaces. Like the high-performance Tango EV we covered more than a decade ago, three iRoads or COMS can fit into a single parking space.

The Toyota i-Road and the COMS at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota obviously sees the benefits of participating in such schemes on several levels, as the Ha:mo project is primarily research into comprehensive car-sharing schemes to explore the utility and business feasibility of co-modality transport solutions. The research objective is to better understand the relationship between the different modes of public and individual transportation in an urban environment, as well as to better identify the "last mile" mobility needs of consumers.


Toyota is providing its proprietary One-Mile Mobility Management System to the project, a centralized IT management system that enables users to check the availability and location car-sharing vehicles and book them through smartphones. The system will also allow the fleet operator to optimize vehicle allocation throughout the charging station network. EDF is setting up a network of charging stations and Cité lib, which operates a car-sharing business in Grenoble, will handle daily operations and customer service.

The Toyota i-Road in use at the Ha:mo (Harmonious Mobility) vehicle-sharing project in Jap...

Toyota's One-Mile Mobility Management System offers many ways of facilitating multi-modal transport across a city, with users able to make reservations for vehicles using a smartphone app, and it integrates with a Hitachi-developed integrated bus operations management system to enable riders to easily access a list of the schedules and routes of multiple bus companies.

The service also acts as a regional traffic information portal, and functionality is currently being developed for push notifications of predicted traffic congestion along registered user routes, route recommendation and weekly traffic congestion forecasts that encourage the use of different roads and transportation methods.

Yamaha's PAS electric bikes are part of the electric offerings in the Ha:mo scheme

In Japan, where the Ha:mo is being developed in Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture, the Toyota Auto Body-produced COMS car-sharing electric vehicles and Yamaha’s PAS power-assisted electric bicycles are already part of the research project’s sharing scheme offerings.

In October 2013, Gizmag reported that the i-Road was being fast-tracked into production and though there’s no availability date set for the general public, it’s imminent release is seemingly inevitable. Check out the gallery section for images of the public using the i-Road.

5 Comments

Love the concept, and the design. But...

Lose the rear-wheel steering (unless you're targetting fork lift drivers).

Extend the range. 50 kilometers on a charge is a deal breaker.

duh3000
7th March, 2014 @ 05:21 am PST

What does "last mile" mean? You made reference to it twice, putting it in quotes both times, so you MUST know it's not a general term. The concept is intriguing, but also a bit frightening; when these become the standard-sized car on the road, how long will it take before we're right back to daily gridlock?

["Last mile" refers to forms of transportation that commuters could use to travel the relatively short distance between a public transit station and their home – or final other destination -Ed.]

William B. Bangs
7th March, 2014 @ 08:29 am PST

I live in an affluent suburban area and with current battery technology see vehicles like the I-Road and maybe something a little bigger as very practical second or third family vehicles. When the weather is good a lot of people ride bikes or motor scooters for the 1 to 3 mile trip to the train station. It would be handy for trips downtown or to the supermarket. High school kids could take it to school. A couple of families we know have Teslas as third family vehicles but use other vehicles for long trips. It is overkill for that but no one wants the inconvience of charging on long trips. At a low enough price, with or without sharing, the I-Road would be affordable for a lot more people and would be just enough vehicle for those short around town errands as the typical second or third family car.

Jeff Goldstein
7th March, 2014 @ 09:02 am PST

duh3000, your objections defeat the purpose of the design.

Noel K Frothingham
7th March, 2014 @ 10:40 pm PST

Just a question, why design this as a Last-Mile device? Why not set it as a replacement for the car?

Aloysius
10th April, 2014 @ 02:56 am PDT
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