Toyota i-ROAD

A fleet of i-Roads is currently being tested as part of a pilot program in Japan. Read more about this car in the article

7/4/14 12:33 pm chumakdenis 1

Toyota i-ROAD was presented at 83rd Geneva International Motor Show.This car doesn't seem like the kind of car that could ever make the leap from a rotating platform on a well-lit stage to the street.

In fact, calling it a "car" seems like a stretch: it's more like a transportation pod beamed straight from the future, a narrow, electric, three-wheeled hauler that automatically leans itself sharply into turns. It seats just one - two, if you're working with particularly diminutive humans - and tops out at around 28 miles per hour. It does just 30 miles on a single charge.

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Interior

As you've mentioned , the car is quite small and getting into the vehicle could be a little bit of a challenge. It is nothing like a standard car from an interior perspective - it's cramped, extremely narrow, and leaves little room for even buckling your seatbelt.

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i-ROAD on the road

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Driving (riding?) the i-Road is... actually kind of scary, at least at first. Because the car is all electric, there's little difference in feel going from neutral to engaging the motor. At even relatively low speeds, the car leans deeply into turns. The faster the turn, the deeper the lean - but interestingly, the faster you're going the larger your turning radius becomes. That means you can't zip around tight corners at higher speeds, and though the designers of the i-Road claimed I had nothing to worry about, even at a moderate pace I did initially fear the car would just tip over on me. It didn't cause the i-Road has as a G meter that calculates how much the body leans and limits the angle so it will never tip over.

Toyota engineers made it so the steering wheel vibrates to let drivers know when the i-Road is leaning at its maximum angle.

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Also,the i-Road is fantastically maneuverable, able to take extremely tight turns at slow speeds. It's also super responsive, reacting quickly to your slight movements and able to stop on a dime.

Suspension system

Toyota had  test how the aritculating front wheels act like a suspension system to smooth out the ride by driving down an incline and over a slight curb at an angle. It was like the i-Road descended a staircase without jostling the cabin. Though the articulating action of the front wheels seemed effortless, it was quite a challenge to make their electrical and mechanical systems work in harmony, says Makoto Morita, chief engineer for the Toyota i-Road. 

Articulating wheels like those on the Toyota i-Road are not unheard of. Piaggio makes a scooter called the MP3 that has them, and Nissan experimented with similar technology on a concept car called the Land Glider. 

Toyota designed the i-Road for traveling short distances in cities. The idea was to create a vehicle that is as compact as a motorcycle, but safer and more comfortable thanks to the enclosed cabin.

Specifications

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Battery

Its lithium-ion battery allows a range of about 30 miles and takes several hours to recharge using a conventional wall socket. Top speed is limited to 28 miles per hour in Europe and 37 miles per hour in Japan, in keeping with each country’s regulations regarding so-called neighborhood electric vehicles, which don’t require the same safety standards as passenger vehicles.

As a concept, however, the i-Road is particularly encouraging - because it proves that personal mobility can still be enjoyable, even as automakers continue to pursue alternative fuels and increased efficiency.

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Drawbacks

On the one hand, this car is really perspective, but on the other hand (and as with many electric vehicles), acceleration leaves much to be desired. Whether by design or by default, because of the speed and range limitations, a local commute is probably as far as you'd want to push things.

Tokyo trials

Toyota announced later in 2013 that it would be putting the i-Road into car-sharing trials in Japan and France. Well, we haven't seen the  i-Road in France, but you can see this compact electric personal mobility vehicle takes to the streets in Japan's capital.

Participants in the limited public trials share their feedback on the ultra-compact, fun to drive i-ROAD, which is available in five colors.

Great,isn't it? It also would be great to hear feedacks about this tiny car and we'll be cause pilot program  will go into rotation with another program in Grenoble, France, this fall. 

Production

Toyota did note that the production i-Road would be faster - but by how much, they're not saying.

The only thing that we know that Toyota hopes to eventually sell the i-Road in Europe and Asia, but hasn’t said when it will do so, nor whether the U.S. will get it. 

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Well, we could only hope that production will begin soon since the i-Road is a bit of a surprise.

While I like smaller cars, a vehicle of this diminutive size would never have been something I considered - but after reading more about this car   for a short while, there's clearly a case to be made for Toyota's experiment. A transportation option like the i-Road for short commutes in New York would be nothing short of amazing.

 

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