Based on the idea that using several means of transport in combination (so-called “multimodality”) was one of the keys to solving city traffic gridlock and pollution, the project makes available 70 ultra-compact electric vehicles, the Toyota i-ROAD and COMS, on a sharing platform called Ha:mo (harmonious mobility). These eco vehicles can be hired up to one hour before use and are located in one of 27 charging stations installed and operated by Sodetrel, a subsidiary of French energy company EDF. The stations can handle the service’s proprietary badge or any existing public transport subscriber badge. People can use them either in a round-trip or one-way pattern, and they can be booked on a smart phone. Users can also plan their multimodal city trips by connecting to the Grenoble metropolis’ route planning service, Métromobilité.
Cité Lib by Ha:mo combines all the innovations of existing car-sharing services, adding the multimodal emphasis which is not typically found in other car-sharing services. Over 1000 people have signed up for the service to date. “When comparing Cité Lib by Ha: mo to other car-sharing services in their first months of operation, we find the results very encouraging,” said Martin Lesage, Director of Cité Lib.
First findings half-way through the project
Scheduled to take place over three years until September 2017, vehicle data and user surveys have started to reveal the first usage patterns. Amongst the main findings:
- The vehicles are used more during the week than on weekends
- The peak usage times of day are the same as for other transport modes: in the morning commute hours, at lunch time, and in the late afternoon.
- The average trip is 5 km – well below the maximum range of 35 to 50 km of the electric vehicles, proving that small EVs are very suitable for city use.
- The average rental duration is 45 minutes.
- Most riders – 75% — use the one-way option, picking up the vehicle at one station and dropping it off at another.
- 20% of users keep the vehicle for a stop-over
- The most frequently used charging stations are the two located close to the train station, with a good spread in reservations across the other 25 stations in Grenoble and neighboring communes.
Focus groups and surveys were also conducted to understand the demographics of Cité Lib by Ha:mo users and their transport habits. Here, the data shows that:
- Although the service attracts all kinds of profiles, the average user is a 36-year-old man, typically college educated, with a white-collar job.
- Students, which are a big part of the Grenoble population during the academic year, represent 14% of customers.
- 43% have a subscription to existing public transport services (city trams and buses, regional commuter trains, or national rail)
- 54 % also take a bicycle 2 or 3 times a week and 41% on a daily basis
- 74% own at least one car
- The service enjoys a very good image: 92%* of polled active users are satisfied or very satisfied; when compared to other transport modes, users value the practicality and the ecological aspects first, before other features like time-saving, fun, speed and cost-saving.
“The mid-term review of this experiment, unique in its kind, confirms its strong potential and
its integration into a multimodal perspective. Cité Lib by Ha:mo is positioned as an innovative and sustainable response to new mobility needs and complements the existing public and ecological means of transportation,” says Christophe Ferrari, president of Grenoble-Alpes Métropole.
User community and future perspectives
Cité Lib by Ha:mo recently created a users’ club to refine the understanding of customer needs and create a community around the project. Several suggestions have already been taken on board: softer suspensions were fitted on all the i-ROADs; increasing the reservation window from 30 to 60 minutes; simplifying the pricing structure to 1 euro per 15 minutes of usage.
The goal of the first year was to get the project up and running and bring all charging stations and vehicles on line, as well as start the promotion towards the population of Grenoble and environs. In the second year, the partners look to increase the user community from the current 1000, to obtain more data and increase vehicle use. The third year will be dedicated to fine-tuning the operational business model of such city car-sharing scheme.
One of the areas being explored is to make the Toyota COMS available to 16-to 18-year olds as an alternative mobility solution to two-wheelers, by giving them access to a low cost and safe four-wheeled vehicle that is limited in speed. The partners are currently working with a driving school to be able to provide drivers’ education prior to giving access to the vehicle to young drivers.
* Based on a survey conducted in March 2016 among 400 most active users.
Located in the heart of the Alps, Grenoble-Alpes Métropole continues to generate innovations. Ranked by Forbes among the most innovative cities in the world (5th position in the 2013 ranking), the Métropole boldly embraces experiments. With 450,000 inhabitants and 49 communes, the Grenoble Métropole is home to one of the best transport networks of France: 5 tram lines, 350 km of cycle tracks, 7000 rental Métrovélos.
A major player in the energy transition, the EDF Group installs, manages and maintains a network of 27 charging stations through its subsidiary Sodetrel. The aim is also to develop new products and dedicated services, such as a single badge that can be used both for public transport and the car-sharing service.
For Toyota, this experiment will demonstrate the potential of small electric vehicles for urban trips and define the optimal conditions for their use as part of a car-sharing service that is complementary to the public transport. It will also contribute to the development of the IT platform Ha: mo that supports the service.
Cité Lib, member of the first French car-sharing network Citiz, historical car-sharing actor in Rhône Alps with 250 cars in the region, and the operator of the system, ensures the customer relationships, manages the flow and maintains the vehicles. Complementarity with the classical round trip Cité Lib service is appreciated by the 4,000 subscribers, especially by the younger generation who is interested by the flexible and economical Cité Lib by Ha:mo offer.