Sponsored Video: Are 3-Wheel EVs The Answer To Urban Gridlock?

Toyota I-Road

The car is still king when it comes to how most of us get from place to place, but with more people moving to towns and cities then ever before (5 billion people are expected to live in one by 2030), new transport technologies are being designed and trialled around the world.

The latest of these is in the French city of Grenoble where a small fleet of 3-wheel electric vehicles (EVs) has been introduced with the aim of encouraging more journeys on the existing transport systems (trams, buses, car sharing and a bicycle hire scheme) by providing better interconnectivity between them.

The project, named Ha:mo (short for harmonious mobility) is being run by a partnership of organisations including the city itself, the local transport authority, Toyota (who provided the EVs), EDF (who built the charging points) and Cite Lib.

Here’s a video that explains it in a bit more depth:

I kind of understand where this is coming from because there are plenty of towns and cities where the main train stations are not that central and where other forms of getting around are not as widespread as they are in London, for instance. Poor connectivity between transport systems are a key turn off for many commuters who would rather get in their car then have to navigate between them on foot.

Being electric, these nippy little I-Road single seaters produce no tailpipe emissions which helps with inner city air pollution (although for total CO2 emissions, the source of the electricity has to be considered). So they score a win over traditional car sharing schemes which tend to use petrol/diesel vehicles in their fleets, but how do they compare to getting one of the growing number of electric cars?

Well, it would seem to me that the Ha:mo scheme has very little in the way of up-front costs for the commuter whereas even the cheapest electric car is going to set you back a few grand (despite the cheaper insurance and tax exempt status).

Then there is the parking benefit; when you reserve your I-Road using the handy mobile app, it ensures that there will be a free parking spot at your destination. With a car, even an electric one, you still need to find somewhere to park and this, too, can be an unwelcome hassle and expense.

What’s more, some people just don’t want to own a car outright – maybe they don’t have quite that level of need, or maybe there is nowhere to park near their home or place of work (highly likely in some cities). These factors also play into the I-Road’s hands.

There are going to be limitations to this sort of system, however, not least the sheer numbers that might be required. When you walk around central London these days you’ll see racks of Boris Bikes and they are typically very close together; you might have hundreds of bikes within a small radius of your position. No matter how small these little EVs are, there is no way that you could squeeze an equivalent number into an urban area that is already tight on space.

So I can’t see something like this working in a huge mega-city such as London, Paris, or even Tokyo (where it is soon to be trialled). Smaller metropolitan areas such as Grenoble might well be where the Ha:mo idea finds its right home; the transport systems are likely to be less well developed and the space will be available to install sufficient charging points to meet demand.

I’m sure the designers have already considered this, but I hope there is a sat nav that gets automatically programmed when you reserve an I-Road so that you get to your destination in the most efficient manner. That and space for a bit of luggage – I can see that being required.

You can learn more about the current trial in Grenoble by clicking here.

This post is sponsored by Toyota but all of the thoughts contained within are my own.

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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