Starting in April, Park24 Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation will trial a car-sharing service in central Tokyo using the Toyota “i-Road”, an ultra-compact three-wheeled electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The i-Road, designed for flexibility and ease of use, will be paired with Park24’s “Times Car Plus” service, which allows members to use share cars at any time of day or night. The trial will also incorporate elements from Toyota’s “Ha:mo” optimized urban transport system.
The i-Road all-electric powertrain uses a lithium-ion battery to power two 2 kW motors mounted in the front wheels, giving brisk acceleration and near-silent running. Driving range is around 30 miles, after which the battery can be fully recharged from a conventional domestic power supply in three hours.
The trial is planned to run from April 10 to the end of September. Usage data and user feedback will be gathered with the goal of assessing ease of use. The trial will also be used to assess changes in user activity patterns and receptiveness to new mobility systems of this type.
With a focus on one-way transportation to commercial facilities and sightseeing locations, users will pick up vehicles from the Times Station at Yurakucho ITOCiA and later return them to any of five locations: Tokyo Tower, Asakusa, Odaiba Palette Town, Tokyo Dome City or Yurakucho ITOCiA.
Park24 will offer the service to Times Car Plus corporate members and some individual members. An online reservation page will allow users to check availability, make reservations and sign up for compulsory i-Road training courses. The service will cost ¥412 (US$3.45) per unit of 15 minutes, with a maximum usage period of two and a half hours.
Park24 operates a parking lot network throughout Japan, and created the Times Car Plus car sharing service to increase the convenience of public mobility. The service, which has approximately 430,000 members, offers rental of a large variety of automobiles including compact and imported vehicles.
Toyota has been conducting trial operations of Ha:mo, its optimized urban transport system, in Toyota City since October 2012. The system aims to relieve traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and improve mobility. Ha:mo links private and public transportation networks, and is being trialed between major railway stations and depots located at public facilities around Toyota City. The Ha:mo project was created when Toyota City was designated as a Next-Generation Energy and Social Systems Demonstration Area by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.