On a visit to Odaiba Hawaiian Festival 2014 over Golden Week I took my daughters into the Toyota's Mega Web facility to try out the driving simulators. My eldest has told me when she grows up she doesn't want or even need a car, but my youngest is car crazy!
After they'd finished driving we took a walk around the rest of the facility. My eye was drawn to a three wheeled single passenger electric vehicle tucked away in a corner of the showroom. As cycling campaigners we constantly complain at the space vehicles take on our roads, but my imagination was captivated by the image of a city where the only vehicles were ones such as this so I wandered over for a closer look.
Imagine my surprise when I noticed an electric bicycle hidden behind that vehicle. Here in the "Experimental Vehicles" area was a bicycle. Now I'm pretty sure the bicycle was perfected a long long time ago and even electric bicycles are nothing new. Is Toyota really that far behind the times?
Sadly the bicycle had no information or explanation it was just there. The only defining features I could note were that the battery, which had charge indicator lights, was incorporated into the top tube and could be removed with a key. Tucked under the rear seat was a compartment which when opened revealed a cord which could be plugged into a (non standard) socket to charge the bike without removing the battery.
Instead of a chain it had a belt drive, and internal hub brakes. There was some kind of display attached to the handlebars which most likely had GPS functionality and the ability total you just how good you were being to the environment in your local area by importing your electricity from a dirty coal fired power station hundreds of miles away!
Cynicism aside I was impressed by this bicycle as automakers tend to try and redefine rather than refine the bicycle and this one wasn't a monster. I was a little sad though that the bike was tucked away at the back of the showroom and wasn't out front on display as the the vehicle of the future which it most clearly is.