SUMOTO, Hyogo Prefecture--Tourists can save on transportation costs while helping cut emissions on Awajishima island, where a two-seater electric mini vehicle is available to hire, free of charge, to get from one sightseeing spot to another.
The Awamobi EV is available at three hotels and a spa facility for up to six hours a day until the end of November.
The project is run by a local council set up to promote the introduction of small personal transporters for the region as part of its Awaji Environmental Future Island Initiatives.
Comprising officials from the prefectural government, the Awaji Island Kuniumi Association and other organizations, the council offered the Awamobi for tourists for exclusive use in Awaji city last autumn, and about 480 people took advantage of the service in three months.
The vehicle was well received by the tourists who said that it was easy to drive, turns on a dime and was a convenient mode of transportation during their stay.
Two Awamobi were used for the service last fall, and their number has been increased to the eight currently in service.
The vehicle can travel about 70 kilometers on a single charge. It can only be driven on public roads on Awajishima island, and its use on the expressway is prohibited. Children younger than 6 are not allowed to share the ride.
The Awamobi is offered for rental from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance reservations are recommended, but a vehicle can be rented on the day if one is available. The personal transporter must be returned to the spot where it is rented from.
Interested visitors can try out the Awamobi at the View Matsuho no Sato spa in Awaji, the Kaigetsukan ryokan inn, Hotel New Awaji and Awaji International Hotel The Sunplaza in Sumoto.