The last mile. That’s the biggest hurdle facing city planners and proponents of public transport- that last mile that commuters have to cross from the train station to their home or office. For many, the answer is either walking or cycling– that’s what all those bike rental programs are all about. Still, even biking is a lot to ask- especially if that “last mile” is more like “last few miles”. That’s where the Toyota iRoad comes in.
Toyota believes that its new, all-electric iRoad might be able to combine the advantages of a motorcycle’s small road footprint, the enclosed weather protection of a car, and the convenience of bike sharing to deliver a real-world solution to the last mile problem that can be embraced by crowded urban metropolises (metropolii?).
At the moment, the iRoad is being tested with rail commuters coming into Toyota city in Aichi, Japan, but that program has seen some early success with high adoption rates and an increasing number of repeat users. Toyota feels good enough about its results in Japan that the company plans to begin testing the iRoad, along with Toyota’s other last mile products, as a low-emission commuting solution in France later this year, when Toyota participates in a vehicle-sharing trial in the city of Grenoble.
As for whether or not we’ll ever see the Toyota iRoad in the US, that may depend on how it works overseas and whether or not it’ll have to be classified as a motorcycle, like the Elio Trikke. Perhaps tellingly, Toyota has said that it has no plans to produce a vehicle like the iRoad for general consumption. That seems like it would be bad for Elio, but good for people like me who’d love to tool around in an iRoad during the winter, but would store the thing in favor of a big boy bike nine months out of the year.
Toyota iRoad Testing
Toyota iRoad “Last Mile” Car Sharing
Source | Photos: Toyota, via Gizmag.