By Jody McCutcheon
Toyota’s four-decade quest to perfect an eco-friendly vehicle that will ease urban traffic congestion brings us the Toyota i-Road personal mobility vehicle. It seats two and is ideal for urban, short-distance travel.
This compact three-wheeler splices motorcycle and tiny car, with a single rear wheel doing the steering. The vehicle is fully enclosed, so drivers don’t require helmets, or heavy duty coats in winter. The design also provides the opportunity to include car-like features including lights, heat, audio and Bluetooth.
An electric powertrain employs dual, 2kW electric motors powered by a lithium-ion battery, offering quick acceleration, zero emissions and nearly silent running. Maximum speed is 45km/h, while the battery gives a range of approximately 50km. A conventional power source recharges the battery in about three hours.
The i-Road’s dimensions offer an advantage over larger vehicles. With a length of 2.3m, height of 1.45m and width of less than a metre, it moves freely through heavy traffic. And have you ever seen four vehicles parked in one standard parking space? It’s totally possible with the i-Road.
Besides its sleek design, the neatest thing about this vehicle is probably the “active lean” technology, which electronically calculates a corner’s required angle of lean based on factors like vehicle speed and steering angle, and moves the front wheels up or down in opposite directions, creating a lean that counteracts the centrifugal force of cornering. For the driver, it’s like taking a corner on a motorcycle. When the vehicle travels in a straight line, the same “active lean” technology functions to even out bumpy roads, enabling a smooth ride.
Offering the functionality of a motorcycle and the sheltered safety of a car, the i-Road will get you around the city stylishly and in timely fashion, without burdening the environment. Well worth the ride.