You hear a lot about future mobility, smart cities, and other innovations designed to make cities and urban transport more pleasant and manageable in years to come. Concrete examples, however, are still few and far between.
In October 2014, 70 Toyota i-ROAD and COMS ultra-compact electric vehicles, and around 30 charging stations developed and managed by EDF’s subsidiary Sodetrel, will be open for service for a period of three years thanks to a unique partnership between the City and the Metropolitan Area of Grenoble, French energy company EDF, Japanese car maker Toyota and Citelib, a local car-sharing operator.
Connected to the public transport system’s IT infrastructure, this new car-sharing scheme will complement Citelib, the current car-sharing service of Grenoble, by allowing users to pick up one of the small EVs at one location and drop it off at another. The project also aims to promote interconnectivity of public transport methods (trams, buses, trains) and a new type of personal mobility using small vehicles that don’t take up as much space as a normal car.
The main idea is to allow commuters to drive the first or last kilometres of their journey for increased flexibility and time-saving, thus contributing to reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality in city centres.
Surveys show that the average daily commute in Europe takes between 40 and 50 minutes. Increasingly, commuters use public transport, but most of them still have to walk a good 15 minutes to reach their final destination. New IT technologies, paired with innovative mobility solutions, are starting to allow the introduction of more flexibility to urban mobility, and will undoubtedly make up the cornerstone of future smart cities.
By bringing together their respective competencies, the project partners are offering Grenoble an innovative service which will allow a real-life, thorough evaluation of the potential of this new form of mobility.
The scale of this integrated and complex project requires partnerships and collaboration—between the project partners of course, but also with the local communities.
EDF is bringing around 30 charging stations to the project, but also more than a half-century of experience in developing electric mobility, both through battery technology and managing charging infrastructures. EDF aims to accompany its public, corporate and private customers in transitioning towards modes of transport that are more sustainable, less noisy and CO2-emission free.
Sodetrel, a fully-owned subsidiary of EDF, brings its expertise in management of charging infrastructure for EVs and PHEVs, commercial management of charging services, and car-sharing service management for the public and private sectors.
Toyota is providing the 70 ultra-compact electric vehicles used in the project: the Toyota COMS (single-seater, 4 wheels, a small rear storage compartment) and the Toyota i-ROAD (two-seater, 3-wheel with Active Lean technology). The latter introduces a completely new and fun way to drive. Very compact, it combines the exceptional handling of a motorcycle or a scooter with the comfort and stability of a car. 4 i-ROADs occupy the footprint of a single car.
Toyota is also developing a data management system that will enable the visualisation and reservation of the vehicles. The system will integrate with Grenoble’s existing transport IT system to offer route planning with different modes of transport from a smartphone. Citelib by Ha:mo is Toyota’s second “Ha:mo” (short for Harmonious Mobility) project and the first outside Japan.
Citelib was chosen for its track record, with more than 10 years of experience in running car-sharing programs in the region.