Grenoble, France - It's Monday morning. You leave home on the outskirts of town at 7.25am to go to work. Half asleep, you take the tram to the city centre - a 20-minute ride. You get off, and wait for the connecting bus. Fifteen minutes later, the bus drops you off five minutes from your office. It's 08.05. You're late - again - for the 8:00 meeting and haven't even had time for coffee. Sound familiar?
Now try it this way. During your tram ride, you use a smartphone app to visualise the available Toyota i-Road three-wheeled electric scooters parked at your usual stop. With a few clicks, you reserve and pay. Another app gives you an overview of traffic flow so you can plan the best route for that day.
SLICE THROUGH THE TRAFFIC
Once you get off the tram, all you have to do is flash your phone on to the charging station to release your i-Road. In six minutes, you slice through the traffic to the charging station nearest your office - just a two-minute walk. It's 7.53 - plenty of time for a coffee before the 8:00 meeting.
Going out to see a client this morning? No problem. There are nearly 30 i-Road stations in Grenoble, a network tight enough to get you within easy walking distance of almost anywhere in the city.
SCIENCE FICTION? NOT FOR LONG
In October this year 70 Toyota i-road three-wheeled electric scooters will be added to the current Citélib car-sharing scheme, for a three-year real-life test. Connected to the public transport system's IT infrastructure, it will allow users to pick up one of the small electric vehicles at one location and drop it off at another.
The idea is to promote interconnectivity of public transport trams, buses, trains) and a new type of personal mobility using small vehicles that don't take up as much space as a car - especially to save time and improve flexibility over the first or last few kilometres of the average commute.
The i-Road is an enclosed scooter with two front wheels on a steerable, leanable parallelogram linkage, much the same as that used by Piaggio on its Gilera Fuoco. It's already in use in trial programs in Tokyo and Toyota City.
It's powered by two electric motors that give it a top speed of 56km/h and a range of 50km at a steady 30km/h.
Since it's only 2345mm long overall and 870mm wide, four of them occupy the same space on the road as a conventional car.