How would it feel to be able to have the maneuverability of a motorcycle without all the inconveniences? To be able to easily manage any kind of road, regardless of bumps and curves, while staying out of the rain and also being eco-friendly?
Toyota and the city of Grenoble may have found the answer.
The city of Grenoble (it’s a state in France), the energy company EDF, its affiliate Sodetrel, Cite Lab, and the Toyota Motor Corporation have teamed up to create and design this experimental car share service. The campaign is called a compact Electric Vehicle (EV) sharing verification project. What that means is this program offers stations around the city that have i-Road available for use by whoever wants them. There’s even an app to let people know the availability of i-Roads at the various stations, the charging status, and making reservations of the EVs.
Why Does This Matter?
The project is set to run for three years and has actually already started. It was initiated on October 1st, 2014. If the project is successful then the crowded streets of Grenoble should be able to run smoother, meaning less traffic jams and smoother traffic flow. It will also reduce CO2 emissions, which is awesome of course.
So, if this i-Road is successful then more cities might adopt the EV system, meaning a big leap in future mobility, urban transport will be easier to deal with, and it will be a lot more manageable. Car sharing might become a lot more popular, which would help solve a lot of problems.
The i-Road’s Inspiration
This little EV was invented by mixing the convenience of a motorbike with the comfort and stability of a car. The i-Road is driven by the front wheels by twin 2-kW electric motors, and steered with the rear wheels. This lets the i-Road lean into corners, like a motorcycle would, to maintain stability, safety, comfort, and composure.
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This little EV is ultra-light with serious maneuverability. The Toyota i-Road only has a width of 870 millimeters and can easily be driven alongside the road, opening up more space for other cars. It also only takes up half of a normal parking space so that could make parking space that much more efficient.
The i-Road has a newly developed “active lean” system, which automatically controls the EV’s body angle. This guarantees the driver a stable ride and maybe even a little excitement. In that way, it’s similar to a motorcycle but the i-Road has a roof and doors so you don’t end up at work looking like a mess.
One of its best features, though, is that the Toyota i-Road has an electric powertrain, meaning it’s quiet and produces no emissions. A single charge can get you about 50 kilometers.
What Is Car Sharing?
Car sharing is a type of car rental that is quickly becoming more and more popular as an extremely affordable way to get around. Depending on the program, you might rent a car by the day or even the hour, picking them up at designating stations around a city and dropping them off at another. This nifty project by Toyota uses a unique IT management system called the One-Mile Mobility Management System, which is quite a mouthful to say the least. This system allows users to check the location and availability of car-sharing vehicles so that they can plan in advance when and where to pick up one of those cool EVs.
This system also manages the EVs location information, availability, and can check an EV’s charge amount. This means people get the best kind of experience with little to no hassle. With this project, there is even a helpful app called “Cité Lib by Ha:mo,” which allows people to check availability, location, and book cars for rental while out and about.
Is Car Sharing The Future of Mobility?
Car sharing does seem like a great way for people who live downtown in large cities (where parking is always hard to find) or those who are on a limited income, or just anyone who only needs a car occasionally rather than all the time, to get around easily while saving money. The Toyota i-Road car sharing experiment in Grenoble might end up being just the first step in every country moving forward in the future of eco-friendly and fun mobility.
This post has been sponsored by Toyota, but concerns my own opinion.