Friday, October 25, 2013

ELECTRIC CAR SHARING IS DEVELOPING IN JAPAN

Japanese Toyota has announced its intention to extend its electric car sharing network. Christened "Ha:mo" – for Harmonious Mobility Network – the network should comprise around one hundred vehicles as well as approximately sixty power-assisted bikes from the end of October.
The Ha:mo fleet, which was put into service a year ago, is composed of COMS micro-city cars produced by Toyota Auto Body and power-assisted bikes manufactured by Yamaha Motors.
10 vehicles and 10 bicycles were originally distributed across 4 stations in Toyota City, the manufacturer’s industrial complex. In addition to the number of vehicles, the number of stations is also increasing from 4 to 21. The network is therefore extending into central Tokyo with docking stations around the major train stations and main public places.
The viability of the project is dependent on a charging system. It will cost €1.50 (200 Yen/£1.27 at current rates) for the first 10 minutes of use and €0.15 (20 Yen/£0.13) per additional minute thereafter.
A network of 2, 3 and 4 wheels
From next year, Ha:mo users should be able to choose whether to travel by bike, car … or tricycle! Presented at the Geneva show in 2012, the i-road is a one-seater three-wheel electric vehicle. This 85-cm wide model, which leans into corners, offers the same handling as a scooter whilst offering the protective chassis of a vehicle. It is expected to be integrated into the network at the beginning of 2014.
After Toyota in Tokyo, Nissan is setting up in Yokohama
Tokyo is not the only city in Japan to adopt car sharing. On the 11 October, the Mayoress of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi, inaugurated Choimobi Yokohama, a network of 45 stations currently equipped with 35 Nissan New Mobility Concept one-seaters (which are Renault Twizy models bearing the Nissan badge). The choice of Yokohama is symbolic as this city is home to the Japanese manufacturer. The number of stations and vehicles is due to be increased to 70 and 100 units respectively.
France is not lagging behind
However, there is no need to live in Japan to drive these latest electric vehicles. The urban community of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines has recently released 50 Renault Twizy models. The subscription-free system intends to be more flexible than the Autolib’ scheme in Paris. Heading south, the Mayor of Grenoble has drawn inspiration from the Ha:mo network; a fleet of 70 vehicles composed of Toyota COMS and i-Road models will come into service in the Alpine capital at the end of 2014.
After self-service bikes, electric vehicles are poised to conquer the new urban mobility market. We can only wish them the same success!