Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon
The Japanese company Toyota has begun trials of a 2-seat version of its electric vehicle the i-Road in Japan, according to recent reports. The trials — to take place in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward — are part of the company’s “Open Road Project,” which was launched back in July.
The 2-seat version of the i-Road was already in use in a test project in Grenoble, France, but this marks the first time that the model will be tested in Japan — following certification from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.
The testing program will see the 2-seaters loaned out for periods of around 1 month to various test project participants — the intent is to see how the vehicle performs during routine acts such as shopping, commuting, etc. In other words, is the space inherent in the design enough to meet the needs of most potential users? Or is there just not enough interior space to function effectively for most people’s uses?
Worth noting here, is that the certification process required that ” [some] aspects of the one-occupant vehicle were modified to make two-occupant use viable.” This includes, modifications of the reflectors and vehicle-width indicators, as well as the addition of an Approaching Vehicle Audible System, amongst other things.
Interestingly, given the size of the 2-seater, and the issues of space shortages in much of Tokyo, the municipal government of the Shibuya Ward “has expressed interest in the convenience of the i-Road, and will conduct the trials with Toyota in an effort to study the possibility of community-based development for the future.”
So, perhaps in the future the roads of inner-urban parts of Tokyo will be reduced in size, so as to free up more space for housing and businesses? While not likely, the possibility is an interesting one.
Toyota, which led the way with hybrid electric vehicles, was the 2010 Zayed Future Energy Prize winner, the second year of the awards.