Toyota expands electric-vehicle sharing program

The electric vehicle concept car can reach speeds up to 45 kilometers per hour (see video below)

Toyota added a new concept electric vehicle to its Hamo car sharing project, which lets users rent electric cars by the minute.

Toyota Coms
Toyota's Coms vehicle on show at Ceatec 2013 in Japan on October 2, 2013.

The company's Harmonious Mobility Network or Hamo has been underway in Toyota city since October 2012. The new concept vehicle called the i-Road weighs 300 kilograms and can fit two passengers. It has dual two-kilowatt motors that can propel the car at speeds up to 45 kilometers per hour for up to 50 kilometers on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery.

Toyota plans to expand Hamo later this month with 45 additional electric vehicles added to the current fleet of 10. It will add 13 new vehicle stations where users can rent, return and charge vehicles. Toyota also hopes to increase membership from 100 to about 1,000.

"When someone wants to use this car they first have to reserve it and they can do that through a smartphone," said Chikara Abiko assistant manager of Smart Community Planning at Toyota. "They can check the availability of cars in real time."

Renting the cars starts at 200 Yen for the first 10 minutes then 20 Yen for every minute after that. Renting the car for an hour would cost 1,200 Yen or about US$12. That's similar to car sharing services in the U.S. like Zipcar, which charge about the same rates, but for full size, gas-powered and hybrid cars.

Toyota is trying to sell the cars and the system to other cities, but wouldn't say which ones.

On show at Ceatec 2013 in Japan, the i-Road personal mobility concept car is a shareable electric vehicle that is part of the companys Harmonious Mobility Network or Hamo that provides cars that can be rented by the minute.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
Windows 10 annoyances and solutions
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.