Toyota COMS - Urban Runabout
Billed as the next generation of urban mobility, the funky white and green Toyota COMS is an ultra-compact electric vehicle with a range of about 50 kilometres.
At this year’s Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Toyota will be showing off a small, all-electric vehicle it thinks could be just the ticket for tooling around the world’s increasingly dense urban centres.
Billed as the next generation of urban mobility, the funky white and green Toyota COMS is an ultra-compact electric vehicle with a range of about 50 kilometres. Regenerative braking helps to replenish the battery, and charging the COMS up to 100% from flat using a standard Japanese 100 volt home outlet is said to take about six hours. Weighing in at a scant 900 pounds, the diminutive single seater is designed to zip through cities where parking and road space is at a premium.
A single motor at the rear powers the COMS up to a top speed of 60 km/h, plenty fast for a runabout with no doors or airbags. Don’t think the COMS is unsafe, though – Toyota reports it has addressed completed thorough in-house testing to ensure the safety of passengers as well as protection of the battery pack. Two different versions are to be available – a P COM with a small trunk or a B COM with a cargo box suitable for 66lbs of kit.
The COMS is part of a vision for the future of mobility, one Toyota calls Ha:mo. Standing for harmonious mobility, Ha:mo is intended to support solutions for local transportation issues through optimal connection between personal transportation modes and public transportation. In other words, Ha:mo envisions an environment where people deploy a smartphone app for seamless and enjoyable local mobility to navigate the city using a combination of ultra-compact EVs (such as the COMS), public transit, and cars.
Expanding on this premise, Ha:mo RIDE is a mobility sharing system providing on-demand transportation. The concept involves users transferring from public transportation to a COMS vehicle they have reserved using an app on their smartphone. One-way trips would be possible thanks to vehicle drop-off stations with charging points.
While there are no current plans to bring the COMS vehicles to North America, Toyota has been conducting field tests in different parts of Europe and Asia. On the subtropical island of Okinawa, for example, COMS vehicles were equipped with a tablet running a newly developed telematics app, which recommended tourist itineraries linking local points of interest. The app provided route directions and information on each tourism spot.
Using COMS vehicles in such an environment, then, makes a good deal of sense. Use of ultra-compact mobility vehicles increases accessibility in areas where roads are too narrow for cars or too steep for bicycles, making more efficient use of the limited time tourists may have at their destinations. Toyota has also provided four of these vehicles to post office branches in central Japan for delivery duties. Real-life testing is also underway in Toyoda City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo and Grenoble in France.
Single-seat, ultra-compact, electric vehicles might not be realistic in all situations, but by consuming less energy per trip when compared to a traditional mode of transportation, they do make pretty effective use of the world’s resources. That’s a concept everyone can get behind, no matter where they live.