Taking Advantage of Small Space Parking is Happy News for Both Lenders and Users

Interview with a Small Space Parking space owner

Test Drive Pilots

Small Space Parking (SSP) refers to a service realized by utilizing and renting out space in front of stores,
parking lot areas not normally used and other urban niches for the parking and charging the i-ROAD ultra lightweight electric vehicle.
At present, a proving trial has gotten off the ground in which spaces furnished by members of the general public are being put to use as SSP.
How will urban mobility change under the scenario of steady increases in the availability of SSP around town?
To gain some perspective on this, we talked with one of the owners of such space – persons collectively comprising a key force in the quest to pioneer a brighter future for motoring around the city.
Small Space Parking (SSP) refers to a service realized by utilizing and renting out space in front of stores, parking lot areas not normally used and other urban niches for the parking and charging the i-ROAD ultra lightweight electric vehicle. At present, a proving trial has gotten off the ground in which spaces furnished by members of the general public are being put to use as SSP. How will urban mobility change under the scenario of steady increases in the availability of SSP around town? To gain some perspective on this, we talked with one of the owners of such space – persons collectively comprising a key force in the quest to pioneer a brighter future for motoring around the city.

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Charging Spots Offering Fun Access for Strolling around City Streets Too

Charging Spots Offering Fun Access for Strolling around City Streets Too

Selected to serve one of the SSP space owners in this undertaking was Mr. Sato, who lives about five minutes by foot from Shimokitazawa Station on the Inokashira private railway line. Mr. Sato is renting out the parking space at his own home, located at the peak of a gentle slope, as an i-ROAD-dedicated parking space. Lying just nearby is a shopping district with various cafes, variety stores and other establishments offering amusements for strolling around while charging the vehicle.
For this interview, we asked Mr. Sato to share his candid thoughts on the reasons that he decided to apply to become a parking space owner, his feelings when actually seeing i-ROAD units parked out front and other insights on being a space supplier.

―― Please tell us how and why you decided to apply to become an SSP space owner.

Sato: Last November I saw a parking space owner-recruiting ad on facebook, becoming aware of the existence of the i-ROAD for the very first time. Noticing how small the vehicle is, I figured it would fit nicely into our parking space and immediately answered the ad.

―― Didn’t you have any plans to park a car in that spot?

Sato: For several years I had been posted abroad in the United States for work, and drove a car during that assignment. Upon returning to Japan, however, I had no plans to own or drive a vehicle. Thinking it was a waste to leave that space open, I was considering the idea of having vending machines installed there. But when I actually looked into it, I discovered it would probably be necessary to use bolts to attach such vending machine to the ground. I was having my doubts about the impact of the construction that would be involved, with the parking space owner ad catching my attention right around that time.

―― What were your impressions when you actually saw an i-ROAD parked on your own property?

Sato: The vehicle definitely stood out for its charming design. With various items stored at the back of the parking space, I was concerned if the depth would be sufficient. So it was a relief to find that the i-ROAD fit right in so nicely.

―― Within the OPEN ROAD PROJECT, the plans call for continuing to increase the ranks of space suppliers like you.

Sato: I would imagine that there are a surprisingly large number of people who are in the same situation as myself, in which the space in front of their homes or stores is going to waste. There are also likely to be those who would rather rent out such space than simply allowing it to lie idle. For that matter, I believe there are also persons who, if actually owning their own i-ROADs, would think in terms of lending their spaces to others in the spirit of mutual cooperation. For example, parking your own i-ROAD there and renting out the remaining space to other drivers.

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"SMILE LOCK" – A Breakthrough for Enhancing the Charging Environment

"SMILE LOCK" – A Breakthrough for Enhancing the Charging Environment

A critical theme in expanding use of electric vehicles (EV) lies in building up the needed infrastructure. To help move in that direction, the OPEN ROAD PROJECT has developed a device known as the "SMILE LOCK." Using this mechanism, which directly instills power outlets with recognition and communications functions, it becomes possible to record data on when and for what durations specific users charge their vehicles. The underlying idea is to mobilize this scheme, with customers paying only for the amounts of power they actually consume, to expand the share of electricity charged from existing outlets and contribute to the infrastructure truly demanded by EV drivers.

―― What’s your take on SMILE LOCK as one format for a new sharing economy?

Sato: I find very rational the idea of being able to borrow the existing power outlets at general households, as opposed to installing new specialized charging facilities. If systematic controls can be exercised over data for how long specific drivers use the sockets to realize on-site adjustment, those of us who rent out those outlets are unlikely to feel any burden.

―― We’d also appreciate your views as a user of power outlets. Access to charging when out and about is a shared concern not only of EV drivers, but also for "nomad workers" and others who heavily rely on frequent use of smartphones and other portable devices. The SMILE LOCK holds the promise of liberating all sorts of outlets around town for ready use. How would such increases in the number of locations for charging change your own personal lifestyle?

Sato: As things stand now, I always fully charge my PC before heading out. If the debut of the SMILE LOCK were to render it possible to easily pay for electric charges and have more locations in the city for recharging, it would be possible to make it through the day free of anxiety about having my charge run low.

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TEXT BY Yui Sato (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida

ISSUED : 14 March 2017

―― Looking ahead, in which types of environments would use of the SMILE LOCK prove convenient for you?

Sato: As one example, when staying at guesthouses or other facilities on trips, in most cases separate charges are made for electrical fees. It seems to me that having access to SMILE LOCK would make such adjustment go much smoother.

―― Yes, this really does suggest a wide range of applications at travel destinations too! Finally, from your outlook as a parking space owner, what message do you have for i-ROAD users?

Sato: Please don’t hesitate to use such parking spaces. My location is only about a five-minute walk from Shimokitazawa Station on the Inokashira Line. Leaving your i-ROAD there is also handy for dropping by the local cafes, shopping and enjoying other activities. Parking for longer periods of time is also welcome, so I encourage drivers to take advantage of this to explore the many attractions of Shimokitazawa.

Clearly, there are many idle spaces in cities, with most owners searching for ways to put them to use. In this interview with one such space owner, we came away with the sensation that "Small Space Parking" offers a means of utilizing idle space that brings happy results to both users and lenders.

By shedding greater light on small niches, unused power outlets and other assets lying idle in city environments, they will gradually take on greater value. This points to the potential for bringing significant changes to urban mobility simply by putting "what we have now" to more effective use.

SMALL SPACE PARKING
Park the i-ROAD in all kinds of tight spaces in the city.
http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smallspaceparking
SMILE LOCK Outlet
The recognition-format power outlet engineered for mutual sharing of electricity.
http://openroad-project.com/prototyping/smile-lock