Bike sharing programs have started popping up in cities all over the world, and now similar car sharing plans are making commuting easier for urban travelers. Given their relative size and complexity, however, loaner cars are understandably more difficult to manage than bikes. Toyota is hoping to overcome that hurdle with a car sharing program that will employ electric cars to simplify that “last mile” journey from the public transit station to work or school.
The scheme, called Ha:Mo (harmonious mobility), offers up two types of cars that can be rented in 15 minute increments. The i-Road is a funky three-wheeled car that seats just one, and the COMS features four wheels and seating for two. You can reserve a car and have it waiting for you when you get to your station. Rental rates for the cars vary from around €3 ($3.89 US) for 15 minutes to €5 ($6.50 US) for 30 minutes. The plan is being tried out in Grenoble, France, where 27 charging stations will be set up around the city. When a user is done with a loaner car, they just drive to a charging station and plug it in to end their trip.
Ha:Mo is an experiment in convincing commuters to use eco-friendly public transportation for most of their commute and electric cars for the last leg of the journey, negating the need to drive their own (probably gas-powered) vehicles the entire way. The Toyotas are tiny and nimble, making them ideal for Grenoble’s notoriously narrow streets. Hopefully that will be even more motivation for people to use them rather than their own cars to navigate the city.