Even well-thought strategies made at Toyota Motor Corp.’s offices can be taken off track, especially if we’re dealing with political activism. And one example is in Grenoble, a city in France where the Japanese wanted to introduce a new car-sharing program.
It all started when Toyota – the world’s largest automaker – began its preparations to introduce the first electric car-sharing test program outside Japan in Grenoble, a 160,000-person city at the foot of the Alps. The city’s administration made the promise of installing security cameras at all 27 planned charging stations for Toyota’s i-Road, a tilting three-wheeled electric scooter. But after the Socialists lost the mayor’s office to the Greens last March, the ripple effect swoop the previous administration’s promises, mostly because new Mayor Eric Piolle ran part of his campaign on anti-surveillance promises.
And with instances of vandalism that slowed the program’s introduction, the vehicles are nowhere in sight in the city – while localized, this is one of the examples of what automakers have to deal if they seek to enter the electric-car market, mostly because local and centralized authority support is crucial. Because of limited access to a scarce recharging infrastructure, the usual auto-industry approach of producing the cars and then forgetting about them as customers handle daily usage has proved utterly inefficient when it comes to pure battery-electric vehicles. And the i-Road is one of Toyota’s pioneering efforts to change the system, by intertwining a car-sharing system with the local public transportation system.