Tokyoites are to get a chance to zip around town on Toyota Motor Corp’s three-wheeled electric car/motorbike from today, in a trial aimed at crafting a global business model to reduce gridlock and pollution.
The world’s top-selling automaker is to 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 to mass produce it.
“Our concept was to offer something that’s both fun and convenient for city driving,” i-Road chief engineer Akihiro Yanaka told reporters.
Devising smarter ways to get around — known in the industry as “smart mobility” — looks set to become a new battleground for automakers as urbanization grows, pollution worsens and more cars clog up cities in emerging markets.
Germany’s Daimler has taken the lead with car2go, with more than 1 million-plus members in 30 European and North American cities able to use a mobile app to reserve the tiny Smart Fortwo car, many of which are zero-emission.
Drivers pay by the minute and can drop the car off at various places in their cities.
Ford Motor Co in January announced the Ford Smart Mobility initiative that would involve various types of trials, including a car-sharing service in London.
Toyota also has car-sharing experiments underway in Toyota City as well as in France’s Grenoble, but Tokyo would be its first in a major metropolis, which it says would benefit most from the i-Road.
“Data shows that about 70 percent of cars in big cities are occupied by one person, with most traveling less than 10km,” Toyota Smart Community Department group manager Toshiya Hayata said. “That means the mode of transportation doesn’t have to be a car.”
In the upcoming trial, users can lease one of five i-Roads from Tokyo’s upmarket Ginza shopping district for ￥412 (US$3.40) per 15 minutes, dropping it off at any of five spots in the capital.
To turn the trial into a viable business, Toyota said it would need to slash costs both for the i-Road and for operating a car-sharing network.
“But Daimler doesn’t have anything smaller than the Smart,” Yanaka said. “If we can make it work, the i-Road could have an advantage.”
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
BAD RAP: The exchange said Tatung had seriously breached shareholders’ rights and failed to give a satisfactory explanation of its board election dispute Tatung Co (大同) shares yesterday plunged by the maximum daily limit of 10 percent to NT$18.90, the lowest in three months, after the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) on Tuesday evening changed the company’s classification to a full-delivery stock effective tomorrow. The TWSE’s move follows the company’s failure to give a clear and satisfactory explanation of why it deprived dozens of shareholders of their voting rights during a board election at the annual shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday morning. Under the exchange’s regulations, investors are not allowed to engage in margin trading of a full-delivery stock, TWSE spokeswoman Rebecca Chen (陳麗卿) told
SIZE MATTERS: Medium-sized hotels that do not have the support of parent groups are more vulnerable and are forced to take action, a REPro Knight Frank researcher said About 50 hotels across Taiwan are seeking to exit the market as they succumb to the bleak business outlook amid international travel restrictions imposed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Yomi Hotel (優美飯店) on Minsheng E Road, Sec 1, in Taipei is seeking to transfer ownership with an asking price of NT$950 million (US$32.15 million) and a pledge for a lease contract that guarantees a 3 percent return. The budget hotel, with room rates that start from NT$1,400 per night, maintains normal operations, but has been struggling since March, when the government placed restrictions on inbound and outbound travel. Occupancy rates for hotels in
With the US dollar expected to weaken in the next 12 months due to near-zero interest rates, investors should consider purchasing US corporate bonds, Standard Chartered Bank Taiwan Ltd (渣打台灣銀行) said on Thursday. The bank said that the US Federal Reserve since last month has been buying bonds issued by US companies to curb default rates. The US dollar is forecast to be weaker against the pound, the euro and the yen, as well as the Canadian dollar, the Swedish krona and the Swiss franc, as the greenback lacks high investment returns after the Fed in March slashed the benchmark interest rate