he has it under the pedal

The first electric bike from Toyota, the Cargo Verso manufactured in partnership with Douze Cycles is aimed at both families and professionals. Discovery and handling of this electrified two-wheeler designed in France.

The electric bike is plural, even among cargo bikes. Three categories are distinguished between longtails, three-wheelers and two-wheelers. The latter is a small niche which the Douze brand has made its specialty. This company was created in 2012 and attracted the interest of Toyota which is seeking to position itself in this specific niche.

Douze, an already veteran player in the French electric cargo bike

Douze Cycles was born in Belgium on December 12, 2012 (12/12/12), hence the name. After a first “V1” two-wheeler model, founder and industrial designer Thomas Coulbeaut migrated to France, near Dijon, to Ladoix-Sérigny, near Beaune (Côte d’Or), to design, assemble and distribute.

Twelve LT recumbent cargo bike

This was followed by the modular V2 in 2014, then the more modern G4 mass-produced in 2017 and the LT longtail bike in 2020, used for the Véligo rental service. Then the company opened its workshop in Longvic, south of Dijon, not far from the headquarters. In 2021, Douze launched the H project, like Hexagone, with the desire to best integrate components made in France. T. Coulbeaut specifies that the reflection was carried out after Covid, a period which rekindled interest in cycling, led to complicated supplies, even shortages from Taiwan, and an unfavorable exchange rate.

This resulted in the Heta, a new two-carrier electric cargo bike. Its greatest particularity is its frame, mostly made of recycled aluminum – 6 to 7 times less CO2 emitting – cast and then machined by the local subcontractor SAB, a few kilometers from Dijon. The Douze Heta also integrates cables from Codica, plastic parts via Protoform, as well as a wooden floor supplied by UEM and the assembly of the hanger by the reintegration workshop of a penitentiary center. All these suppliers are located nearby, at the farthest near Saint-Étienne.

To assemble these parts and the electric cargo bike, Douze built a new production site a few hundred meters away. We visited this 6,000 m2 site, divided into five parts: the sub-assemblies (raw materials transformed into small parts), front frame, rear frame, assembly of the two parts and packaging.

Toyota partners with Douze to develop a real offer in the range

Toyota, a Japanese car manufacturer having however started its French activity with the Yaris in 1999 in Valenciennes, found its ideal bike there to deploy its mobility offer. “It must be remembered that transformation is in Toyota’s DNA, coming from the loom before moving to automobiles.», explains Luca Neyroz, Toyota France marketing director.

This wish is in line with Toyota’s ambition to become “a mobility company, with a range of solutions for customers and not agnostic technology“. This is already the case for its cars: thermal initially, then hybrid with the Prius, hydrogen with the Mirai, and electric since the recent bZ4X. In addition to four wheels, Toyota is launching the Cargo Verso presented in January, a two-carrier cargo bike derived from the Douze Heta.

Toyota Cargo Verso Factory Twelve 3

Some will only see the sticker flanked by “Toyota Mobility”, but this model is distinguished by several other aspects. First, the engine is no longer Shimano but Yamaha, a manufacturer in which Toyota is a shareholder. The PW-X3 block, observed on the Moto 07 VTTAE, therefore powers the electric cargo bike.

While the BMW E-Bike relies entirely on Angell, Toyota is building a “real separate range” in its catalog and network. These Toyota Cargo Verso will be available in 270 dealerships across the country, this partnership being exclusively French. Indeed, other initiatives could see the light of day, such as the Toyota electric mountain bike in Argentina. The brand formed “1,200 people to raise awareness about electric bikes», continues Luca Neyroz. They will aim to sell 2,000 vehicles in 2024 and 3,000 in 2025.

This will therefore represent half of the capacity of 6,000 units at the Douze production site, because the Toyota Cargo Versos are assembled alongside the Heta. Teams, thanks to their flexibility, can set up one or the other model with ease. The first models will arrive in Toyota dealerships next week, and deliveries to customers will begin in October. While waiting for the availability of these electric cargo bikes, we took the handlebars of one.

Easy driving but average comfort over long distances

It was therefore in the Dijon region that we were able to drive a Toyota Cargo Verso. We selected the family version, because the Japanese firm targets several targets: families (30%) as well as professionals and couriers (70%). The latter will opt for the bare platform version, while individuals will choose the one with the “Wide Box” body.

The test bike also had the bench seat with belts. Without children to transport, we placed teddy bears there to simulate their presence, thus attracting the sympathy of Dijon residents intrigued by cycling. Although imposing, the plush toys do not reach 100 kg of payload: we are therefore talking about driving practically empty.

Before leaving the Longvic factory to reach the center of Dijon, a short period of adaptation was necessary. Handling a biporter requires a few minutes of getting to grips with it, especially with its 2.75 meters long and a front wheel (suspended) hidden by the body. Looking far away while anticipating as you should, steering the Toyota Cargo Verso becomes very easy in a few minutes, thanks to the double pulley steering.

However, it should not be handled roughly. Be careful with counter-steering: turns must be taken gently. The bike’s center of gravity is also very low, which facilitates the sometimes chaotic trajectories of Dijon’s cycle paths.

Often on sidewalks or on poorly paved areas on the banks of Lake Kir, these conditions allowed us to note decent comfort thanks to the large Schwalbe Pick-up balloon tires, 26 inches at the rear and 20 at the front. The Italia saddle, although made in Italy, presents a slightly unpleasant firmness after about fifteen kilometers.

However, our position was quite passive, adjustable by adjusting the saddle and handlebar height. Positioned high to protect lint from handle hits to the head, the handlebars can be lowered to offer a sporty position, favored by couriers.

A powerful Yamaha motor in the pedals

Whether delivery boys or parents going from home to school, everyone can appreciate the excellent Yamaha engine. The 85 Nm PW-X3 block, central and with a torque sensor, responds quickly to pedal pressure and reaches 25 km/h without difficulty. However, we regret that our route did not have more elevation changes to fully test its capabilities.

Toyota Cargo Verso Yamaha engine

In any case, the Shimano Cues transmission is very responsive when shifting through the 10 speeds, while the brakes are both very efficient and progressive. The Toyota Douze Cargo is equipped with the top-of-the-range Tektro M750 hydraulics with 4-piston calipers and 180 mm front and 203 mm rear discs. Among the 5 modes, Eco+ and Eco modes are almost insignificant, while Mid, Standard and Expower modes are already more lively.

An Auto mode switches between the 3 intermediate levels, optimizing the autonomy of the removable 500 Wh battery, which recharges in 4 hours and is announced for 100 km of autonomy (in Eco mode). Our short trip did not allow us to verify this data, but we were able to establish an initial positive assessment of this Toyota Cargo Verso.

What price for the Toyota Cargo Verso electric cargo bike?

Available from 6,190 euros in the standard Floor version, the price increases depending on the model: the enlarged Pro Floor accepting 4 Euro boxes, a Wide Box with or without hard top offering 270 liters, a child seat with belts and a rain protection called “Canopy”.

Toyota will also offer paid accessories, such as saddlebags or a baby seat for the rear luggage rack, helmets, or even a set to protect yourself from the rain as a cyclist. The warranty is provided by Toyota, as are maintenance and servicing. Moreover, the first service is offered after two months or 300 km traveled.

Toyota Cargo Rear side

It should be noted that this electric cargo bike is eligible for national aid for the purchase of a bicycle, up to 2,000 euros, or for the conversion bonus in the event of transfer of a car (up to 3,000 euros maximum, depending on certain conditions and the models scrapped). Regional aid can also be added to these amounts.

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