The program is called Choimobi Yokohama ("choimobi means "easy mobility" in Japanese) and the cars being used are the Nissan New Mobility Concept EVs. The cars are about 92 inches long (about a foot shorter than a Smart Fortwo), can seat two and can top out at 50 miles per hour. The program starts October 11 with 30 cars and will work its way up to 100 cars in 70 locations within the ensuing year. Drivers will be charged about $12 an hour, and Hitachi and Mitsui are contributing the online reservation system and in-town parking facilities, respectively.
In March, Nissan started testing the New Mobility vehicles, which are based on the Renault Twizy, with suburban Japanese moms. Nissan said at the time that the model could be ready for public sales within three years. In the meantime, the broader goal for Nissan and Yokohama with its one-year program is to cut city emissions while boosting tourism, both noble causes that we'd love to see pushed more here in the States. Check out Nissan's press release below.
Nissan will offer 100 ultra-compact NISSAN New Mobility CONCEPT EVs
YOKOHAMA, Japan (September 25, 2013) – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has announced an ambitious one-way car sharing service with the City of Yokohama that is the first of its kind in Japan to involve significant use of ultra-compact EVs. Called "Choimobi Yokohama," this new service, which will be provided in the downtown core of Yokohama, will eventually employ up to 100 units of the NISSAN New Mobility CONCEPT ultra-compact electric vehicle (EV) and commences on October 11, 2013. People who wish to participate can apply through the service's website that went online today.
Choimobi Yokohama is a combined effort between Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and the City of Yokohama as part of the Yokohama Mobility Project ZERO program (YMPZ). The YMPZ program is aimed at increasing low-emission transportation options for residents of the city. The Choimobi Yokohama plan is designed to be a one-way car sharing service that enables EVs to be rented from and returned to any of 45 car pickup/return stations that will be located in the downtown core in Yokohama.
The main objectives of the year-long project are to reduce carbon emissions on public roads, improve the quality of transportation in the city, and promote tourism. With support from Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Choimobi Yokohama (which means "easy mobility" in Japanese) will begin with the use of 30 units of the NISSAN New Mobility CONCEPT and gradually increase that number to approximately 100 units in total. To date, there has been no other car sharing service in Japan that has used such a high number of ultra-compact EVs for this type of mobility project.
Other companies have joined in to assist in this ambitious effort. The membership enrollment and reservation system for Choimobi Yokohama was developed by Hitachi, Ltd. The parking facilities at the various car stations, which are vital elements in this project, will be provided by Mitsui's Repark of Mitsui Fudosan Realty Co., Ltd. as well as many other companies and tourist/public facilities.
Once the Choimobi service is underway, Nissan 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.
As the leader in Zero Emissions mobility, Nissan, working under the Ultra-Compact Mobility Certification System of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, continues to seek opportunities to harness the potential of ultra-compact EVs toward improvements in urban transportation and living environments for commuters and people in general.
Choimobi Yokohama Service Information:
1. Project duration: One year from October 11, 2013
2. Cars: 100 units (plan) of NISSAN New Mobility CONCEPT
*Plan is to begin with 30 units, then increase the numbers of units available to approximately 100 during the project period
3. Pick-up/drop-off locations (car stations): 70 locations centered around the Yokoyama Station, Minato Mirai, and Kannai areas in downtown Yokohama
*Plan is to begin with 45 locations, then increase to 70 locations during the project period
*Please visit http://www.choi-mobi.com (in Japanese only) for more details.
4. Driving area scope: Within the city of Yokohama
*The vehicles are restricted from driving on expressways and highways
5. Usage charge: 20 JPY/minute
6. Process to enroll in the project:
1) Enroll online through the service website for the project
2) After registering, attending a safe driving class is required. The curriculum lasts about an hour. Class will be held at Nissan Global HQ or Pacifico Yokohama
3) After the course is completed, a membership card will be provided to use the service
7. Usage requirements:
1) Driver must possess a valid Japan driver's license. This excludes international licenses and driver's licenses issued outside of Japan
2) Possess a smartphone that can receive e-mails
3) Possess a Japan-issued credit card
NISSAN New Mobility CONCEPT:
Electric-powered vehicle with lithium-ion batteries
Maximum speed: 80km/h
Length: 234 cm, Width: 123cm, Height: 145cm,
Vehicle weight: 500kg; passenger capacity: 2 people
Note: Nissan's announcement is being issued at the same time as announcements about the project from its partners, the City of Yokohama, Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Fudosan Realty Co.