From the moment we’d originally previewed the Toyota i-Road, we knew it would be something different. Just how different though – how revolutionary – I don’t think any of us could’ve guessed.
I think it’s safe to say that the Toyota i-Road impressed everyone who saw it at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. Toyota didn’t just bring a show car, they brought something functional. It was featured on a small track with hourly driving demonstrations, so competing executives and curious journalists alike got a piece of the little concept gliding through turns and swerves with effortless ease.
Unfortunately, while it’s certainly fascinating to behold the Toyota i-Road leaning through turns in perfect balance (check out the title=”i-Road on the road” target=”_blank”>video), we still don’t have all that much information about the car itself. Nor do we know when we might expect a production model.
Here’s what we do know about the Toyota i-Road Concept from the information gained through the Geneva Motor Show and the accompanying press material:
First, the Active Lean technology in combination with an 850mm wheelbase (that’s less than 3 feet wide!) means that this little motorcycle-esque vehicle is perfectly suited for city driving. Apparently you can “park four of the new Toyota PMVs in a single car parking bay,” which should give you a hint of this car’s size. Especially in non-US cities where the roads are traditionally narrower and often more curvy, the i-Road will thrive.
Second, the goal of the i-Road is to “reduce energy consumption and the environmental burden attached to transportation,” specifically in urban areas. As is clear in the video, Toyota envisions charging stations as a part of everyday city-driving, so the 30 mile radius won’t seem nearly so nerve-wracking.
The press release hints that Toyota’s initial inspiration for the i-Road was to combine the efficiency and convenience of motorcycles and mopeds with the safety and comfort of a car and closed body. Clearly, they’re very proud of their Active Lean technology, which is what’s allowed them to create such a narrow wheelbase without sacrificing stability. According to the press release, the “system features a lean actuator motor and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the right and left front wheels. An ECU calculates the required lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information.”
Sounds pretty complicated, but in practice it looks incredibly smooth and intuitive. I’m a little jealous that I won’t get a chance to drive one for a long time (probably), and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the Toyota i-Road concept lived up to the hype and more. It’s definitely strange, but I think it’s a good strange. An intriguing strange.
Stay tuned for further updates on this innovative concept from the biggest Japanese car brand in the world – You’ll get ’em as soon as we do.
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