“i-ROAD for Two” Mothers’ Talk
~ Bringing Together – Two Test Drive Pilots ~

Test Drive Pilots

Gathering that day at a cafe in Shibuya Ward were two Phase 4 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots and their young children
– Ms. Uno and her daughter, and Ms. Ozeki and her son.

Naturally, both ladies motored to the venue in their respective i-ROAD cars. On this occasion, we wanted to find out
what types of changes the “i-ROAD for Two” had brought to the daily lives of these two mothers and their families.

Toward that end, we asked both Ms. Uno and Ms. Ozeki, who have become good buddies through the
“i-ROAD connection,” to freely discuss whatever topics crossed their minds.
Gathering that day at a cafe in Shibuya Ward were two Phase 4 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots and their young children – Ms. Uno and her daughter, and Ms. Ozeki and her son.
Naturally, both ladies motored to the venue in their respective i-ROAD cars. On this occasion, we wanted to find out what types of changes the “i-ROAD for Two” had brought to the daily lives of these two mothers and their families.
Toward that end, we asked both Ms. Uno and Ms. Ozeki, who have become good buddies through the “i-ROAD connection,” to freely discuss whatever topics crossed their minds.

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i-ROAD is a Car that Just Begs to be Taken Out on the Road

i-ROAD is a Car that Just Begs to be Taken Out on the Road

Several weeks had passed since these ladies introduced the “i-ROAD for Two” cars into their respective daily routines – a first in Japan. Both said that they had finally gotten used to the ins and outs of driving this car, and were currently quite smitten with the i-ROAD lifestyle. To begin, we asked them about the so-called “warm-up period” in getting used to their new sets of wheels.

Uno: I had only driven a minicar in the past, and that was a long time ago. Considering the long blank, I anticipated a major struggle in growing accustomed to motoring around again. Surprisingly, though, I found the i-ROAD a snap to operate. Though Tokyo is known for its many narrow and winding streets, the i-ROAD was quite easy to handle and maneuver about, making it easy to negotiate such routes. I started out with practice runs near home, and in about a week was able to also take to bigger roads with confidence.

Ozeki: I particularly like the sense of unity between car and driver that you get from driving the i-ROAD. That brought back memories of the sheer “joy of the road” that I experienced years ago when I rode a motorcycle. My original idea in applying to become a Test Drive Pilot was to infuse greater mobility into my daily routine. Now, I find myself increasingly motivated to take the car out simply to savor more of that “driving delight.”

Uno:  I couldn’t agree more! I come up with shopping, chores and various other excuses to take the car out and about. I sometimes get up early in the morning just to enjoy a spin around the immediate area in the i-ROAD. For the very first time, I’ve become aware of just how much fun driving really can be.

It certainly appears that these two mothers are reaping ample pleasure from their i-ROAD runs. But how have their kids reacted?

Ozeki: Every time we get in the car my son squeals with joy, and really teams with me in getting the most of our rides around town. He likes the i-ROAD so much he’s nicknamed the car “Ai-chan.” I’m starting to worry that he may cry his eyes out when the test drive period concludes and we have to return Ai-chan where she came from!

Uno: I guess that boys just love any type of vehicle. My daughter, perhaps because she’s a girl, tends to doze off whenever we start to drive around. I guess the gentle vibration and swaying about feels good. Then again, I should also mention that the i-ROAD has been a hit with her, as well as her friends. She invites some of them over to take part in the test-driving. When the mother of one of those friends asked where she had gone on the drive, the girl answered proudly: “To the future!”

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The i-ROAD is Great for Shuttling Kids to and From Kindergarten!

The i-ROAD is Great for Shuttling Kids to and From Kindergarten!

For mothers of young children, a key part of driving duties consists of trips to and from the local day nursery or kindergarten.

Uno: This is really a great help. I feel particularly happy that I was selected to test-drive the i-ROAD when the weather turns rainy. Before now I’d shuttled our daughter back and forth by bicycle, forcing us to walk about 15 minutes each way on rainy days. With the i-ROAD, we can cover that distance in no time at all, rain or shine!

Ozeki: I couldn’t agree more, and for that matter, it makes things much easier on cold days too. By bicycle, meanwhile, I would generally go straight home after picking up our son. But with the i-ROAD, I have the option and leeway to do some shopping on the way back, go for a spin or partake in other activities. I can truly say that the i-ROAD has expanded my activity sphere.

Uno: In fact, the kindergarten that our daughter attends bans access by car onto its grounds. Despite that, when the director got a look at my i-ROAD, she waved me in, saying: “There’s no problem with something that size!”

When driving their kids to and from kindergarten, how have fellow mothers and others in the vicinity reacted to the i-ROAD?

Ozeki: Perhaps because of the strong visual impact, there seems to be a tendency to refer to me as “the Ozeki-san who drives THAT car.” I’m always getting requests for permission to take snapshots, and I hear plenty of comments about how they hope the i-ROAD will be available on the marketplace soon!

Uno: People often stop to talk when I’m driving around town. Just recently, an elderly person commented: “I bet I could even drive a car like that!” I’ve spoken with a surprisingly large number of people who find normal size cars a bit too intimidating, but would like to try driving something like the i-ROAD.

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Getting Out the Message that the i-ROAD is also Easy on the Pocketbook!

Getting Out the Message that the i-ROAD is also Easy on the Pocketbook!

As mothers entrusted with the household finances, electric charges are naturally a source of concern for both of these lady Test Drive Pilots. Then again, they report little change in electric bills after introducing the i-ROAD into their daily lives.

Uno: Since I’ve exclusively charged my i-ROAD unit at home, I was a bit concerned about the impact on our electric bill. So it was a big relief when I examined the statements and found there has been little significant change. I definitely want to tell other potential driver mothers about this benefit.

Ozeki: That’s right, and perhaps because of that, I find lots of parking lots and spaces around town that I am willing to pay the electric charging costs for parking the i-ROAD

Uno: I hope such exclusive parking lots will increase Recently, I’ve been using smartphone apps to locate parking lots and map out the routes there before leaving home. It would be even easier and convenient to drive such cars, however, if there were more lots where you can charge them up while parking.

Ozeki: I want to believe that there will be more such parking lots by the time the i-ROAD is actually made available to the general public. For the time being, though, I just want to get the maximum satisfaction out of my experiences in the i-ROAD throughout my stint as a Test Drive Pilot.

Our “i-ROAD for Two” Mothers’ Talk was an exchange of pleasant and tranquil experiences and ideas throughout. Leaving a particularly keen impression was the mellow and soothing smiles upon comments about how easy the i-ROAD makes it for these ladies to shuttle their kids around. In that spirit, we hope such maternal smiles are destined to expand beyond Shibuya Ward to other wards and municipalities as well from here on!

TEXT BY Ryoko Sugimoto (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida

ISSUED : 5 February 2016