EV car sharing hits Japan

Nissan in Japan has embarked upon an ambitious new car sharing service said to be that nation’s first with ultra-compact electric vehicles. The auto company has teamed up with the city of Yokohama in this service, focused upon the downtown core area and what such an offering can do to help ease congestion.

Choimobi Yokohama, as the new car sharing service is called, makes use of 100 new Nissan Mobility Concept electric cars in a gradual phase in scheduled to start in mid-October. These vehicles will be available for rent at, and can be returned to, any of 45 stations around the city (this will eventually increase to 70). The service is is designed around a one-way model so that a driver does not have to return the EV to where he or she picked it up from.

image via Nissan

The electric vehicle at the heart of this service is powered by lithium-ion batteries and has a maximum passenger capacity of two people. It can hit a maximum speed of 80 km/h, and is being field tested in other parts of Japan as well, such as in Teshima, Tonosho-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa prefecture, where it is the focus of a rental car service. The Mobility Concept is something Nissan’s been fooling around with since 2010 as a short distance alternative to its Leaf.

Once the Choimobi service is underway, Nissan said it “will work closely with local public transportation service providers, shopping malls, condominium management associations and local businesses to further explore the potential utility of ultra-compact EVs and the feasibility of related commercial opportunities.”

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling