Toyota i-Road’s Will Be Rolling Down The Streets Of Grenoble
The streets of Grenoble in southeastern France will soon be besieged with funky, candy-coloured vehicles that resemble mopeds with shells. Toyota will be providing 70 of its electric vehicles, called the i-Road, for the electric ride-sharing programme Ha:Mo (abbreviation of Harmonious Mobility…nice) during the test period. The initiative is a joint effort between the city of Grenoble, the Metro Area, electric company EDF and affiliate Sodetrel, local ride-share operator Cité Lib and Toyota.
Just like other bike-sharing programmes, Ha:Mo is a means for people using public transit to cover the ‘last mile’ to reach their destinations. Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said that the programme’s goal is to “be a part of creating a future urban mobility” and to make getting around cities easier while reducing vehicle emissions.
Anyone with a driver’s license can sign up and have access to two types of Toyota vehicles: there is the three-wheeled, single-seater i-Road and the four-wheeled, two-seater COMS. Users simply use a mobile app (everything seems to be achieved this way nowadays) to reserve and pay the rental charges, which will be about €3 for 15 minutes or €5 for 30 minutes.
See any video of the i-Road in motion and it calls to mind the leaning movement of a skier, which Toyota calls the Active Lean technology. Although not very much bigger than a moped, it features a full canopy that protects riders from the elements and provides some comforts of a car.
Like other bike-share programmes, users can pick up the vehicles from one of the 27 stations dotted around the city, but they will also have to return it to one of these stations, plug it in to recharge before walking away. Grenoble isn’t a very big city, so 27 stations should suffice, but if the programme is to be replicated in large cities, then sufficient stations have to be set up if it was to help users cover the final distance to offices, homes, malls, etc. The problem with electric vehicles is that it has to be parked at a place with charging facilities. Car2Go of San Diego has found a ‘semi-solution’ for its vehicle recharging problem. Users can park anywhere they like, unless the vehicle’s battery falls below 20%, in which case the user must drop the vehicle off at one of the charging stations found across the city.
Perhaps in the future, electric vehicles will be ubiquitous and every parking space will be equipped with charging facilities, and this will become an eventual non-problem. We look forward to that day.