Japanese carmaker Toyota is to rent out its electric three-wheelers called the ''i-Road'', in a bid to reduce pollution in Tokyo. Paul Chapman reports.
RESENDING NEW VERSION TO CORRECT THE NAME OF TOYOTA MOTORS CORPORATION SPORTS VEHICLE MANAGEMENT DIVISION GROUP MANAGER FROM AKIHIRO YANAI TO AKIHIRO YANAKA. PLEASE MAKE NO FURTHER USE OF STORY 4218-TOYOTA-MOBILITY. It looks like a cross between a scooter and a mini car. Meet the i-Road, a three-wheeled electric vehicle developed by Japanese carmaker Toyota. Now it's being offered for hire in Tokyo in a move to help cut pollution. Drivers can pick up the vehicle at one location, and drop it off at various others in the city where it can be returned to a specialized charging station. The service is in partnership with parking lot operator Park 24, and Toyota's Akihiro Yanaka says this is the future of urban transportation. SOUNDBITE: Toyota Motors Corporation Sports Vehicle Management Division Group Manager, Akihiro Yanaka, saying (Japanese) "The concept of i-Road is that it has the qualities of a bike. It's easy to make small, quick turns, and it doesn't take a lot of space when parking. On the other hand, it has the comfort of a regular car, where you can drive it in the rain and without a helmet. Those without driving skills can drive it with stability." The one-seater is 2.3-metres or 7.5 feet long and has a top speed of 60 kilometres, or 37 miles per hour. Drivers can rent the i-Road by the minute, and are required to have a car license. The service will start its six-month trial period soon, and its creators hope it will offer a smart solution to the growing global pollution problem.