On December 23, 2022, Japanese company OpenStreet officially kicked off its newest electric vehicle rental service on the streets of Tokyo, called Hello Mobility. The service is a cooperative effort between the Softbank-backed OpenStreet and Gachaco, and makes use of both Gachaco battery swapping stations and Honda Benly e: electric scooters that are outfitted with top boxes for rider convenience.
For those unfamiliar, Gachaco is the electric vehicle battery consortium formed by Japan’s big four motorcycle manufacturers, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha, along with Japanese petroleum company ENEOS. In early December, 2022, the company opened its first two preliminary battery swapping stations in Japan.
The Hello Mobility shared vehicle platform, as OpenStreet and Gachaco currently envision it, will consist of EV scooter stations, Gachaco battery swapping stations, and of course a smartphone app. The steps outlined for Hello Mobility EV scooter station use include reserving your EV scooter at a given Hello Mobility scooter station, picking it up, swapping batteries at Gachaco stations as needed, and returning the scooter to any Hello Mobility scooter station when you’re done.
Gallery: Hello Mobility Electric Scooter Sharing In Japan
Planned pricing starts at 160 yen (about $1.20 at the time of writing) for 15 minutes of use. It’s unclear whether this is an introductory rate, nor whether there will be any discounted rates available if you know you’re going to need to use a scooter for longer amounts of time, but it’s also early days for Hello Mobility’s rollout. So, like all things, it will likely evolve to meet the wants and needs of customers and operators.
At Gachaco battery swapping stations, registered and authorized users can access the battery swapping with their handy IC cards, which are easily mounted on keychains. Once there, they can take their depleted battery, plug it into an open space, and take out a freshly charged one to be on their way in a relatively short amount of time.
OpenStreet sees Hello Mobility as a useful service, both in terms of short-term mobility for urban commuters, as well as corporate and sales activities in urban areas. To start, the company will offer the service in the Jonan area of Tokyo, which includes the Meguro, Minato, Ota, Setagaya, Shibuya, and Shinagawa wards. There are plans for additional expansion in the future, but further information about them hasn’t been announced just yet.
If you’re in Japan, the name Hello Mobility may look familiar because OpenStreet is also the company behind the similarly-named major bicycle-sharing platform, Hello Cycling. Will users adopt Hello Mobility into their lives as readily as Hello Cycling? As with so many things, we’ll have to wait and see.