Toyota Now Offers Cargo E-Bikes Through Its Dealers In France

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It might be hard to imagine walking into a car dealership looking for a car, and then riding out on an electric bike instead, but it appears that could be a possibility now — at least in France, and only at Toyota dealers.

Here at CleanTechnica, we’ve historically been quite skeptical of Toyota’s efforts to enable cleaner transportation options, as the company seems to be set on pursuing the oddball of electric mobility — hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles — as well as hybrids (read: Prius), as opposed to full battery-electric vehicles. While hybrids may be a gateway option for electrifying transportation, and an easier sell for many people than a pure electric vehicle, the hydrogen-as-transportation-fuel option has never really lived up to the hype — at least for the average daily driver.

However, Toyota may actually be on to something with its recent announcement about the availability of electric cargo bikes at its dealerships in France. Toyota France and DOUZE Cycles have entered into a partnership which is meant to “promote soft and sustainable local mobility” (per Google Translate) through cargo e-bikes. The “DOUZE Cycles x Toyota Mobility” electric cargo bike is produced in France by DOUZE, and then offered through some 300 Toyota dealerships in France.

The Vélo Cargo Verso is a bakfiets-style e-bike capable of hauling about 220 pounds (100 kg) of cargo in its low-slung payload platform, and is powered by a 250W mid-drive Yamaha motor and 500Wh battery. According to Toyota France, this configuration should be good for up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) of range per charge, with a 4-hour recharge time. Although a 250W motor seems rather small compared to many of the e-bikes on the market today, a mid-drive motor is a different animal altogether from a hub-motor, and the specs on the Verso look to be quite adequate for a car-replacement bike — or just as a way to decarbonize local and last-mile errands.

The Verso will be available in several different configurations, including a basic cargo tray or a cargo box, and can also carry children, which adds to its versatility. According to the website, the Verso is available to lease for €99 per month for individuals, and €115 per month for business use. The details are available at the Toyota France website, or if you prefer, the Google Translate version of that same site.

“25 years ago, Toyota opened the hybrid road with the first generation of Prius, thus showing the path towards decarbonization. The hybrid, of which Toyota has today become the world leader, is now at the heart of the multi-technology strategy of the brand which makes it possible to meet the specific mobility needs of each consumer. Soft and local mobility is one of these needs. It is therefore quite natural, on the basis of a common vision, that we entered into this partnership with DOUZE Cycles, a key French player in the cargo bike market. Due to Toyota’s history in France, it seemed extremely important to us that our partner have a production site on national territory.” — Frank Marotte, Chairman and CEO of Toyota France

This type of partnership between an automaker and a bike company feels like a natural fit, as transportation is transportation, even though the appropriate vehicle may be different for each type of customer and each type of transportation need. An e-bike, or a cargo e-bike, won’t fully replace a car in all instances, but could certainly cut transport emissions quite radically for many short trips, and can also help take the sting out of finding a parking spot in densely populated areas.

However, I’m kind of surprised that we aren’t seeing a better integration of bikes and e-bikes with cars (pickup trucks are much easier, due to the ease with which a pickup bed is accessed), and that we aren’t seeing more new vehicles with either a built-in bike rack or with a bike rack being offered as a fairly standard accessory. Having a bike on-board for last-mile transport seems like a great option in many locations, although fitting a cargo e-bike like the Verso into or onto a vehicle is not that feasible, even with a pickup truck (assuming that most drivers do not want to have to lift a heavy and bulky bike up into the bed).

Images courtesy of Toyota France


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