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Toyota expands electric car sharing program

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Toyota has added a new concept electric vehicle to the Hamo car sharing project.

The automaker unveiled the new lineup at the Ceatec expo in Japan. The firm's Harmonious Mobility Network -- or Hamo for short -- allows renters to drive electric vehicles (EVs) and pay a rental fee based on minutes of use.

Aside from adding 45 additional EVs to the current fleet of 10, Toyota revealed the i-Road, a car weighing 300kg. The car has enough room for two passengers, can reach speeds of 45 kilometers per hour, and can travel 50 kilometers on a single charge of the i-Road's lithium-ion battery pack.

Renting the cars in Toyota City, located in Japan's Aichi Prefecture, costs 200 yen for the first 20 minutes, and 20 yen for each minute afterwards. In U.S. dollars, this is approximately $12 per hour.

The automaker hopes that by expanding the fleet, membership of the Hamo project will go up to 1,000 from 100 users at the moment.

"When someone wants to use this car they first have to reserve it and they can do that through a smartphone," Chikara Abiko, assistant manager of Smart Community Planning at Toyota told PC World. "They can check the availability of cars in real time."

Toyota is touting the scheme to other cities, but has not revealed which areas have caught its eye.

Via: PC World

Image credit: Screenshot/Toyota

— By on October 2, 2013, 9:07 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure