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Toyota to have employees test 50 electric cars.

NAGOYA, Sept. 16 Kyodo Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will have a few hundred employees participate in tests with 50 electric vehicles (EV)

starting next spring by having them share the EVs to commute to work and move between factories and offices.

The tests will be conducted in Toyoda, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, where the automotive giant's head office is located.

Toyota will use for the tests the improved model of the two-seat ''e-com'' car that the company displayed at last autumn's Tokyo Motor Show, it said.

Toyota will issue integrated circuit (IC) cards that can be used as car keys to employees. The employees will take turns using the EVs, and the IC cards can contain reservation data.

The e-com runs on a rechargeable nickel hydrogen battery. Once the battery is charged, the car can travel 100 kilometers at a maximum speed of 100 km per hour.

Toyota plans to install 60 battery-charging ports at its headquarters and elsewhere. The batteries can also be charged with an ordinary household electrical outlet.

Toyota will keep track of the EVs' whereabouts by installing receivers on them that can pick up signals from ground-positioning satellites, it said.

EVs do not emit harmful exhaust gases and run much quieter than vehicles with internal-combustion engines. But the cars have their drawbacks in that production costs are high and each charge is only good for 100 km or so travel.

The auto industry also fears that the lack of a charging-system infrastructure may limit the spread of EVs among consumers, industry officials said.

At present, Renault SA of France is conducting tests with its EVs on the outskirts of Paris. Toyota will become the first Japanese automaker to test an EV on public roads.

Toyota believes that ''the issues facing EVs can be resolved, since most cars in large (Japanese) cities are driven no more than 30 km per day, with one or two occupants per vehicle,'' it said, adding that the use of EVs in small communities or in tourists locations will stimulate demand.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Sep 21, 1998
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