"It was the Germans who invented an automobile powered by an internal-combustion engine, but it was the French who discovered the freedom of movement and cultivated a concept of mobility."I remember hearing such expression in Germany.
As a matter of fact, automobiles had created personal freedom of movement that could not have been offered by public transportation such as trains and buses. Furthermore, after Henry Ford succeeded in the development of the Ford Model T on the American continent, with the expansion of motorization, people started to enjoy the freedom of movement, and the ability to travel by car created various lifestyles.
In the modern world where the use of automobiles had been deeply penetrated in the society, people have started to search for a diversity of mobilities. One of the examples is new changes being created in the relationships of "cities and smart mobility."
Let's have a look at the changes"i-ROAD", the micro electronic vehicle (EV) introduced by Toyota Motor Corporation (TOYOTA), has been creating in the society. In the spring of 2014, TOYOTA conducted a monitoring survey by lending ten"i-ROAD" vehicles to members of the public residing in the national capital region of Japan.
The width of TOYOTA's EVs is almost as narrow as that of motorcycles, and as a result, drivers can drive in a city with ease. The micro size makes it easy to find a parking spot as well. Furthermore, we cannot overlook features of EVs providing the convenience that no motorcycle can match.
A newly developed "Active Lean"technology automatically controls a vehicle by having left and right front wheels move up and down, allowing stable driving by leaning like a motorcycle. And yet, because a vehicle touches the ground with three wheels, it is more stable and easier to control than a motorcycle. Another benefit is having a roof preventing a driver from getting wet from rain.
While still remaining the pleasure of racing through a city with an EV's unique feature of having effective performance starting from a low-speed range and the lightness of driving while feeling the fresh outside air without a helmet, a vehicle travels for about 50 km on one charge when travelling at the speed of 30 km/h, ensuring a sufficient cruising range for short-distance transportation in a city. Needless to say, there is no CO2 emission from the tail end.
According to the survey, they found changes in people's behaviors as indicated by participants' comments such as"It made going out much easier"and "It motivated me to go out to areas that had not been accessible through a conventional traffic system before."
In addition, TOYOTA is participating in a verification project in the city of Grenoble in southeastern France. Grenoble is an ancient historic city situated in the mountains and known to have a number of universities and research institutions. TOYOTA is providing a total of 70 micro EVs, 35"i-ROAD"vehicles and 35 "COMS" vehicles, to the verification project for a car-sharing service.
This verification project aims to accommodate the increase in transportation needs that have risen with population growth.
Diversification of transportation means with the addition of micro EVs as a new transportation method to conventional mobilities such as public transportation and privately-owned vehicles is expected to alleviate traffic congestion and make a shift to a low-carbon society.
SMC 2015 will not only showcase free transportation styles described here and next-generation mobilities that will enable us to create a new eco-friendly and smart city but also offer the test-ride area to visitors to actually experience these future mobilities. We invite people to experience possibilities of smart mobilities in a hypothetical futuristic city that will appear on the site of the TOKYO MOTOR SHOW 2015.