Published: October 26, 2015 | Tokyo, Japan
Toyota will use a new trial project on the subtropical island of Okinawa to assess the viability and benefits of tourism-centered car sharing. The service will operate from January through the end of the year on the island’s Motobu Peninsula, and will be based around Ha:mo, an optimized local transport system developed by Toyota. Ha:Mo has already been functional in Grenoble and Tokyo.
Toyota is conducting this trial with cooperation from the Motobu Town Tourism Association, the Nakijin Village Tourism Association, and the JTB Group, in the hope that it will help develop tourism in the region by enabling people to discover new tourist sites and plan trips that take advantage of unique regional attractions.
Toyota’s vehicle of choice will be the COMS, an ultra-compact electric vehicle manufactured by Toyota Auto Body, with 30 units stationed at hotels and tourist sites.
Each COMS vehicle will be equipped with a tablet running a newly developed telematics app, which recommends tourist itineraries linking local points of interest. The app provides route directions and information on each tourism spot, offering courses such as a four-hour exploration tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nakijin Castle Ruins and nearby traditional villages.
Through this initial trial, Toyota will assess the effectiveness and usefulness of the Ha:mo system in improving access to tourism sites, and in stimulating local economies through increased interactions between tourists and locals. After accumulating operational know-how, Toyota will consider expanding the model to other regions within the prefecture.
Development of the local economy through tourism is therefore a pressing issue right now, and Toyota believes that one possible solution could involve car-sharing services that enable freedom of movement with minimal environmental impact.