If you have ever participated in a carsharing program, you pretty much already know what Toyota’s i-Road system is like, except the i-Road* uses a very compact all-electric vehicle (EV). This fact is likely to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers who choose carsharing because they want to reduce their carbon footprints, as well as those who just want a fun ride. The EV has three wheels and is used for short trips. i-Road electrics are intended to help commuters travel from one mode of transportation to another seamlessly.
For example, if you are located a short distance from a commuter train network but not within good walking distance and there is an i-Road system near you, you can rent the three-wheeled electric vehicle, drive it to the train station, and drop if off at a designated parking lot. You only pay a small fee and get to your train on time, only using electricity.
The Toyota i-Road goes 50 kilometers (31 miles) per charge and uses a lithium-ion battery. Many city dwellers prefer to live without owning a car so that they don’t have a big monthly payment, insurance, fuel, and maintenance costs. You also don’t have to worry about parking, parking tickets, and speeding tickets.
A successful i-Road test drive event was held in Ecoful Town, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, last year. The electric vehicles handle somewhat like a motorcycle in that they respond to the way the driver shifts her or his body weight when turning. Overall, the i-Roads got a very positive response.
In April of 2015, an i-Road sharing network will be active in Tokyo. Testing has already taken place, and judging by the 4.7 million views for this YouTube video, there seems to be a lot of interest.
Two apps for mobile devices make both selecting optimal transportation routes and reserving the EVs very efficient user experiences.
The i-Road seems like a great idea and would probably help many people connect from one form of public transportation to another in an enjoyable way.
Would you rent an i-Road if a sharing network was available near you?
Image Credit: Toyota
*Full Disclosure: This article was kindly sponsored by Toyota. That said, all the opinions above came from me, and we’ve demonstrated for a long time here on CleanTechnica how much we love the i-Road.
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