(Phys.org) —Look, it's a hooded scooter. No, it's a trike house. No, it's a, well, it's a concept. The category-challenged debut of the Toyota i-Road will nonetheless attract a number of interested viewers at this week's Geneva International Motor Show starting Tuesday. (Should the future owner of an i-Road struggle to define it, "car" would not even be in Toyota's vocabulary; they are referring to their i-Road as a Personal Mobility Vehicle.)
The take-home for i-Road viewers will be that Toyota has designed a three-wheel, two-seater, all-electric vehicle specially purposed for city travelling at short distances. The i-Road can do about 30 miles on a single charge.
The design is an eyeful, in i-Road's higher-end resemblance to a golf cart or scooter. The scooter-sized i-Road would be providing the same attractive advantage of parking ease, yet with a fashionable enclosed cabin. As for measurements, the i-Road is 2,350mm long, 1,445mm high, with a 1,700mm wheelbase. The car-like features of the i-Road include interior lighting and heating.
The passenger needs to sit behind the driver to accommodate the small, slim size of the vehicle; the most standout feature of the i-Road, however, is its stability system that keeps this unique mobile vehicle upright.
The i-Road leans itself over like a scooter in navigating, when needed, in a self-leaning system that can automatically balance the vehicle. The system allows the two front wheels to move independently of each other. With the aid of computer-controlled technology, the system can figure out the angle of the tilt based on the steering angle, gyro sensor and vehicle's speed. The i-Road's two front wheels are each powered by their own two-kilowatt electric motor. A lithium ion battery provides the power. The owner would need to anticipate about three hours of charging time, from a household power outlet.
Toyota did not issue information on plans for production, nor was there any information on pricing. Several auto blogs speculated that Toyota could actually introduce this in the real world one day as a solution, promoted for reducing traffic congestion and pollution in crowded cities, or may use its technologies or components for future designs.
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More information: Toyota (Japanese)