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Toyota Gets into Light Electric Vehicles

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GENEVA, Switzerland – It is one of the surprises of the Geneva Motor Show which is currently taking place in Switzerland (March 7 – 17); Toyota’s i-Road. It’s no science-fiction, but a very serious project with the first production models staged for 2014.
The futuristic Toyota i-Road underlines once more that the boundaries between (powered – electric) two-wheelers and other mobility concepts are steadily fading. - Photos Rob van Ginneken
The futuristic Toyota i-Road underlines once more that the boundaries between (powered – electric) two-wheelers and other mobility concepts are steadily fading. - Photos Rob van Ginneken

The futuristic Toyota i-Road underlines once more that the boundaries between (engine powered or electric) two-wheelers and other mobility concepts are steadily fading. You can call the i-Road  a roofed scooter with two seats, electric drive and a front wheel tilting mechanism reminiscent of the Piaggio MP3. But this Toyota is different, because i-Road's steering takes place with the rear wheel.

Personal Mobility Vehicles
One would think that the i-Road is a typical show prototype made for attracting attention to the brand. However, Toyota claims that's not the case here. A spokesperson said: "In 2014 the first i-Road project starts with 70 models being deployed in a mobility project in and around the Grenoble region. What Toyota in fact states with this i-Road is that the company doesn't believe in 'ordinary' electric cars. Toyota sees a more realistic future for electric mobility with so-called  Personal Mobility Vehicles made for one or two riders. They are affordable and fit for usage in urban areas."

Comfortable to drive
Thanks to its rear wheel steering this small Toyota is hugely agile, as we saw on the small test track in one of the Geneva Motor Show halls. Turning circle: only three meters! Moreover, four i-Road's fit on one parking spot for a mid-sized car as the vehicle is not larger or wider compared to a motorcycle. With an audio system and heating, this futuristic scooter is very comfortable to drive. The Toyota i-Road offers a range of 50 kilometers.

Photo

  • Toyota i-ROAD
  • Toyota i-ROAD

by Rob van Ginneken

2 comments

  • # 1
    Comment deleted by a moderator
  • # 2

    FunRide007

    Toyota has a great concept (Narrow, Enclosed, Tilting, Commuter); BUT its limited performance (30 mi. range, 28mph speed) severely limits its practicality and marketability in today's society. While less than 30mph might be OK for a city center; getting there on 45-55mph roads would be impractical and dangerous. Most city dwellers live in apartments and high rises and would find parking, storing and recharging impractical. Might be good for a “Car Sharing” business. Now if Toyota could come up with an i-Road-2.0 with 100 mile range and a top speed of 65-75mph, then they would have the “Commuter of the Future” for suburbanites , and would sell hundreds of thousands; I know I'd buy one!

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