Toyota's i-Road to debut at the Geneva Motor Show

March 5, 2013 by Nancy Owano report

( —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.)

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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 or . 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 's speed. The i-Road's two front wheels are each powered by their own two- electric motor. A 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.

Explore further: Toyota shows off its new iQ electric-car prototype

More information: Toyota (Japanese)

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not rated yet Mar 05, 2013
whoa. what happened to the i-Real?
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
Bring back the Model T.
not rated yet Mar 05, 2013
Kinda looks like a giant flea.
2.1 / 5 (11) Mar 05, 2013
Problem #1 is an overnight power outage/issue and not being able to get to work in the morning. Problem #2 is having to stay 3 extra hours at, say, work because you need to charge your completely immobile Personal Mobility Vehicle, when all you want to do is go home. Problem #3 (for the people who want to use it to save the world) is that 60% of the time you just charged it up by burning fossil fuels. Problem #4 is how badly you would be hurt in a crash with a dump truck on the way home after it is finally charged up. Problem #5....
On the other hand, if you want to buy one just because you think it's cool, that's perfectly fine.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
Pretty Sweet. They need to put bigger wheels on these things. I bet it rides like crap. I love the leaning into the turns, fun like a motorcycle but safer.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2013
I suspect many people would be overcome with motion sickness in minutes.
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2013
whoa. what happened to the i-Real?
I think it was the prospect of smashed faces from sudden stops and speed bumps etc.
I suspect many people would be overcome with motion sickness in minutes.
Ever ride a motorcycle? Did you throw up?
4.6 / 5 (5) Mar 05, 2013
They need to put a regular 100-150cc gas engine in this. It would give 50 mph, have unlimited range, cost less, and sell more. It would be a perfect commute vehicle.

Many people are creating these covered motorcycles, putting batteries in them, and trying to charge 20-25K. Mistake. Put gas engine and sell it for 10K.
2.5 / 5 (8) Mar 05, 2013
Battery powered cars are, and remain, stupid. Batteries are poisonous to build, they have to rely on fossil fuel to recharge, and their short life-time promises all kinds of recycling issues.

Drill here, drill now. Figure out how to store and transport hydrogen, and make fuel cells without platinum.
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2013
@QuixoteJ: Problem #1: Not for the rural third world. Who has even brown out except in a storm anymore? (Even then... it have to be a hooter.) If there is a power-outage, it is news. #2: Those people are going to have to walk 3 hours for fuel anyway because they run out now. #3 Still at a greater efficiency than a mobile ICE. Also can be switched to non-fossil fuels easier than everyone being upgraded to the latest technology all at once. (Can't believe this canard keeps being used...) #4 It too is a problem now. Heard of a bike?*

I don't think this implementation is really going take off & the battery tech is really getting me down. However if you're going to be negative, at least raise problems that are at least relevant and not already debunked

* Better tech all in all. The biggest issue is sweat, which has severally limited its application.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2013
@sennekuyl: Okay, I'll retract all my points and distill them into one giant problem with this technology that you can't ignore:
What if you forget to plug it in at night?

People forget to plug in their cell phones. They will forget to plug in their vehicles, too. Late for work in the morning. I hope it was worth taking a half-day of vacation.

I'm not trying to be negative... I'm just adding some reality, which tends to be a buzz-kill. Electric vehicles are not as good of an idea as their manufacturers would have you think. And the energy issue I raised is very valid. Do you know how much extra power you would have to generate to supply a city full of these things? I'd like to see us using more geothermal/solar/wind/nuclear but it just won't happen for another 50 to 100 years. Save these products for then.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2013
People forget to plug in their cell phones. They will forget to plug in their vehicles, too. Late for work in the morning.
There are three cars for every person in LA, and public transport besides. A friend here rode from downtown to the ocean and over the Hollywood Hills into and across the valley on a bicycle
in six hours

A simple reminder alarm will alert forgetful commuters
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
People forget to plug in their cell phones. They will forget to plug in their vehicles, too. Late for work in the morning. I hope it was worth taking a half-day of vacation.
Yeah I forgot to get gas once and ran out on the way to work and so I was late. Does this count?

This was before cars had 'low fuel' alarms. Like electric cars have 'low charge' alarms. There is a charge station at the local library parking lot. I don't know how common these are. Do you?
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
Okay... what if you get home 30 seconds before the low charge alarm goes off? Whatever the reason, people will wake up in the morning and realize they forgot to charge their vehicle, or that there was a power outage, or that the breaker tripped. Even on "empty" a regular car will still get you 10 miles to the next gas station (and it doesn't take 3 hours to fill up).

I don't want to sound like I'm nit-picking, so I'll stop. It's just that people need to think about the practicality a little more before thinking that this would be a good mode of transport to rely on.
not rated yet Mar 07, 2013
The practicality is that the problem you raise occurs regardless of the technology used. That doesn't mean people aren't thinking about the problem but that it isn't a good one to dismiss a particular application. It is particularly ineffective as there are multiple solutions to that problem all around us, as there are for most people.

As for solutions:

There is a light that come on at ~10%(?) in most cars, that would probably still exist in some form if not the same. My computer warns me at 10% battery, my phone at 20,10,5%.

With location aware tech the vehicle could vocally ask to be plugged in when the car is stopped and the door is opened. If the vehicle has been to that location 2, 3 or more times and been charged might also be a useful trigger for a vocal request, email or other methods.

These systems are coming whether or not the vehicle is electric. The biggest issue I see as likely is companies making the systems proprietary & monolithic.
not rated yet Mar 07, 2013
This, and other designs like it are the future of daily transportation for most people.

Get used to it.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2013
It seems a Piaggio MP3 (there is an hybrid version, too) mixed with a Renault Twizi. And, as everybody having ever tried to drive backward can say, a back steering system is a VERY BAD IDEA.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2013
This three-wheel design is very unstable due to steering dynamics. The direction changes very quickly, while the lean give reverse-motion body signals to the driver. If the rear wheel is doing the steering, it would be even worse! Similar to the awkward first few hours learning to fly a helicopter. And the rear wheel is far too small -- it would be eaten alive by potholes in most cities. I'm sorry, but how hard can it be to design something like this that might really work? (shakes head)
1 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2013
Install some rotors on the thing and you have a PAL-V Personal Air and Land vehicle. Toyota took the drive stability system idea from PAL.
not rated yet Mar 16, 2013
"This three-wheel design is very unstable due to steering dynamics." - Mayday

1 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2013
Disarmingly kitchy.
not rated yet Apr 13, 2013
I'll take one.

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