A Glimpse Into The Future of Personal Mobility: The Toyota i-Road[Sponsored Video]

Posted on 17 March 2015 by Tony Santos

  In recent years, there have been constant push in the automotive industry for electric vehicles (EV). Today, with continuously rising gas prices, most people prefer going from A to B as efficient and as eco-friendly as much as possible.   Clearly, Tesla is the leader here thanks largely to its quick & sexy Model S which has caught the attention of enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike. The problem, however, is that four-wheeled EVs are still heavy and unable to slice through thick urban traffic any better than conventional cars. And it doesn’t help that the battery technology used in these EVs are still years before actually being comparable to traditional gasoline & diesel fuels in terms of range.   Toyota, the world’s biggest car manufacturer, thinks they have the solution. And no, we are not talking about the Prius here, but Toyota’s new concept vehicle called the i-Road.  

The i-Road is a small, three-wheeled EV that is a hybrid of sorts between a car and a motorcycle. It seats two passengers in tandem to keep the vehicle as narrow as possible. Measuring at 870mm wide, 1,455mm high and 2,345mm long, the i-Road is as wide as the big conventional bikes by Ducati, Honda. And Harley Davidson.

Length 2,345mm
Width 870mm
Height 1,455mm
Wheel Base 1,695mm
Tire Size (Front)80/90-16 (Rear)120/90-10
Minimum Turning Radius 3m
Occupancy 2
Curb Weight 300kg
Powertrain 2 electric motorsr
Maximum Speed 60kph
Cruising Range (Single Charge) 50km
Battery Type Lithium-ion

To differentiate itself from traditional motorcycles, and to also provide better protection against the elements, Toyota decided to design the i-Road to feature a fully enclosed body and a squircle-shaped steering wheel rather than handle bars. As such, no helmets are required, a big plus for those who do not wish to ruin their hair-do going to work, and steering feels less intimidating especially for non-motorcycle drivers.

Further distancing itself from its two-wheeled siblings, the i-Road is front-wheel drive, with zero power coming into the rear wheel. Each front wheel is powered by a 2.7 hp electric motor which is then sharedly powered by a lithium-ion battery.

To help keep the i-Road upright without human help (the driver can’t stick his/her foot out when at rest because of the complete enclosure), Toyota implemented what it dubs as Active Lean technology. Basically, it is a self-righting technology that consists of a geared actuator affixed to each front wheel’s suspension arm.

An electronic control unit (ECU) manages the degree of lean of each front wheel using steering angle, a gyroscope, and vehicle speed to induce lean in corners or keep the i-ROAD steady at low speeds. More so, the system filters out road imperfections especially when traveling in a straight line, great for roads that have seen better days.

Toyota claims charging time of three hours for the i-Road, although the company did not specify which domestic power standard they used for reference. After its reveal at the Tokyo Motor Show, TheMotorReport.com’s Connor Stephenson took the i-Road for a spin and says driving it is enormously fun and akin to an olympic skiier powering down hill.

Some Toyota insiders say that the i-Road is production ready, although no decision has been made yet on a sale date, pricing and availability.

This post has been sponsored by Toyota, but all thoughts are our own.

Categorized | Car News, Car Videos

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