Toyota today began testing its Harmonious Mobility Network (Ha:mo) carsharing concept in Tokyo with a number of i-Road cars, following an experiment that's been taking place in Grenoble, France, since October. The goal is to assess whether this unique vehicle would be viable on the market in the medium term.
Through Ha:mo, people who rent a three-wheeled i-Road will be informed about the best route to take based on departure and arrival times, real-time traffic conditions, road work, and other obstacles.
Toshiya Hayata, group manager of Toyota's Smart Community department, claims Ha:mo is different from conventional carsharing services — it's a comprehensive transportation system rather than a simple alternative to public transit, he says.
A growing number of automakers are working on "smart mobility" solutions to curb urban congestion and pollution especially in emerging markets. That's where the i-Road comes in.
"Data shows that about 70% of cars in big cities are occupied by one person, with most travelling less than 10 km," explains Hayata. "That means the mode of transportation doesn't have to be a car."
In order to turn the trial into a viable business and compete with Daimler's car2go service, which uses electric smart fortwos, Toyota will have to reduce costs both for the i-Road and for operating a carsharing network.