Toyota dealers across France now have a cargo bike on the showroom floor, and it's not just for show: they’ll sell you one instead of a car.
The electric-assist model comes in two configurations, one aimed at the family and the other at trade and logistics users.
Leasing deals and insurance packages are offered, as is a service every 1500km, in which a Toyota mechanic plugs software into the bike that diagnoses and tunes its motor, battery and tyre pressure, and even checks that only authentic replacement parts are being used.
The move shows that car makers around the world have sniffed the wind and decided there is an e-bike in their future markets.
Toyota has sourced its bike from French cargo-bike maker Douze.
The selected model, the Douze Verso, can take two or three children in family mode for up to 100km. The tradie bike can lug 100kg of tools with its cargo tray fitted.
The bikes are made in France and fitted with electronics from Yamaha and components from Shimano. The bell comes from Melbourne's Knog.
Toyota has a finely tuned sales pitch for the new product: "Today, with urban traffic constraints including traffic jams, parking, the cost of gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions, the cargo bike is reappearing in cities and has even been widely democratised in recent years.
"The cargo bike has become a choice to replace a car.
"For families, the cargo bike facilitates and enriches their daily lives: shopping or equipment, dropping off children at the nursery or school, going to work by bike, and transporting dogs."
In France, companies can obtain subsidies of $1500 for each electric cargo bike as the nation pushes to get polluting diesel vans off the road. And many cities offer subsidies for families wanting to replace the second car.
France is the first country to see the Toyota initiative, which will be rolled out further if successful.
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