Tokyo TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd., Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd., Denso Corp. and Aisin AW Co., Ltd. will join test operation of TMC's Crayon* EV Commuter System, featuring the emissions-free two-seater "e-com" electric vehicle, starting from the end of October.
Roughly 100 employees of the newly participating companies are slated to sign on to the shared-use personal transport system, boosting Crayon membership to about 700 members. A depot terminal (parking site with battery charging facilities and reservation functions) will be installed at each of the companies, giving Crayon a total of 13 depots and creating near-actual operation conditions.
Crayon is currently centered on the environs of TMC's head office in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and features eight depot terminals around the head office and one at Toyota City Hall. Approximately 600 registered TMC employees and Toyota City Hall personnel have participated in shared-use of 50 e-coms for commuting, traveling within the grounds of the head office site and daily work activities since trial operation began in July 1999.
The Crayon system comprises:
1. Reservation and Recharging Management System based on office PCs and terminals located at the e-com depots all linked by an intranet
2. IC Card System whereby members use IC cards as car keys and for entering reservation information at the terminals
3. Location Management System utilizing ITS technology at the Operations Management Center
4. Real-time Information Provision System based on VICS (Vehicle Information and Communication System) and MONET (Mobile Network, a TMC telematics system)
5. Charge Billing System that bills users based on the total time of use and distance traveled
*Named for an image of "drawing a picture of mobility that has a dream for the 21st century".
The Crayon model of shared EV use is attracting attention as a means of alleviating environmental and traffic problems. Various entities are considering either trial or full-fledged introduction to provide short-distance transport, such as that required in urban areas for business use, in resort areas for tourism, and in residential neighborhoods and housing projects for shopping and trips to and from nearby train stations.
TMC plans to use the expanded Crayon trial operation to improve the e-com and the Crayon system. It will also share broadly what it has learned and welcome a large range of opinions toward practical deployment of the system in the future.
Along with expanding Crayon's real-road testing grounds, TMC, based on the results it has gained so far, is also working on giving the shared-use concept greater flexibility by enabling it to accommodate one-way use and uneven distribution of vehicles at depots, and by allowing the depots to serve as "information terminals".