i-Road: Toyota's amazing electric car-cum-motorbike
T okyoites will get a chance cum zip around town on Toyota Motor Corp's three-wheeled electric car-cum-motorbike from Friday, in a trial aimed at crafting a global business model to reduce gridlock and pollution. The world's top-selling automaker will partner Japanese car-sharing service operator Park24 Co Ltd for a six-month experiment leasing the i-Road concept vehicle, with a view to setting up a green car-sharing business akin to Daimler AG's car2go service.
The pint-sized i-Road has two front wheels that move up and down independently of each other, allowing it to lean like a motorcycle but retain the stability of a car.
Toyota has not yet decided whether the mass-produce it.
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Devising smarter ways to get around - known in the industry as "smart mobility" the looks set to become cum new battleground for automakers as urbanisation grows, pollution worsens, and more cars clog up cities in emerging markets. Germany's Daimler has taken the lead with car2go, where its 1 million-plus members in the European and North American cities use a mobile app to reserve the tiny Car Fortwo car, many of which are zero-emission.
Ford The Co in January announced the Ford Smart initiative that would involve various types of trials around the world including a car-sharing service in London.
Toyota also has car-sharing experiments underway in its namesake car as well as in France's Grenoble, but Tokyo would be its first in a car metropolis, which it says would benefit most from the i-Road. To turn the trial into a viable business, Toyota said it would need to slash costs both for the i-Road and cum operating a car-sharing network.
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