Toyota’s i-Road: Combines The Convenience of a Motorcycle with the Comfort and Stability of a Car

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Have you ever wondered what would it be like to live in a low carbon world? Where our houses are heated not by gas, but by solar energy? And where our cars run not on oil, but on electricity? Governments talk about reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by eighty per cent by 2050. However, any significant change will need drastic changes in our energy supply and our lifestyles. Auto manufactures’ are increasingly turning to electric vehicles (EV) to offer consumers zero-emissions mobility. Toyota thinks it has found a solution with the i-ROAD.

This small, three-wheeled electric-powered concept is something of a cross between a car, a motorcycle and a golf cart. Toyota refers to it as a personal mobility vehicle—it is very innovative. The i-ROAD can seat two passengers in tandem to keep the body as narrow as possible; Toyota claims that it is actually no wider than a two-wheeler.  It also gives occupants protection from the elements, featuring a fully enclosed body. Because the passenger cell is fully enclosed, no helmets are required. Essentially, it combines the convenience of a motorcycle with the comfort and stability of a car.

Now, the Toyota Motor Corporation is set to embark on consumer trials of the i-Road in the Greater Tokyo Area to assess the effectiveness of this EV in everyday situations within urban areas. The trials, which start from mid-March 2014 through early June, will see 10 vehicles provided to approximately 20 test participants, ranging from the general public to trend and industry experts. Feedback will be collected concerning driving feel, user satisfaction, ease-of-use in urban areas and impact on destination choices. In addition to the upcoming trials, the i-Road has also been trialled on public roads in Toyota City since early March, as part of "Ha:mo"1, Toyota's urban traffic system created to explore the possibility of realising a low-carbon society in which mobility is enhanced by technology.

The vehicle will also be seen in Europe in 2014 with two-seater models set to take part in a car-sharing programme in the French city of Grenoble for the next four years. The trike uses 'Active Lean' technology that allows its wheels to move up and down to calculate the best position for going round tight corners, or weaving in and out of traffic. It is designed for negotiating busy city streets.

The i-Road is part of Toyota's eco range. This prototype has a range of 30 miles on a single charge, which may not be a long distance, but the company believes this type of vehicle could serve as the main mode of transport for short urban journeys in the future. It certainly is one of the most exciting EVs out there right now. It looks cool. And, as Toyota states, it does seem to offer a “unique driving experience.” The i-ROAD could indeed have huge success in Europe and Japan. 

Photo Credit: Toyota Global Newsroom