2014 Paris Motor Show: Toyota i-Road
About two years ago, Toyota unveiled the i-Road concept, which matured to a production-ready road-legal version.
A fleet of these two-seater tricycle-format personal mobility vehicles (PMV) are used at car sharing project the Citélib by Ha:mo in Grenoble, France.
You can drive it without a helmet or protective clothing and it’s also weatherproof.
“PMVs are a new, more flexible type of transport for urban driving that is significantly more comfortable, weatherproof, stable and safe than scooters and motorcycles. While they share the zero-emissions and low running cost virtues of electric vehicles, their dimensions – in particular their width – are similar to a conventional two-wheeler, giving them the essential manoeuvrability needed for negotiating city traffic and easy parking.”
Drivetrain is pretty small – two 1.9 kW electric motors are mounted in the front wheels.
Lithium-ion battery can supply i-Road for up to 30 miles/50km (target distance at a fixed 19mph/30km/h). Then charging takes three hours from a regular household outlet.
Interesting is Active Lean technology, without which it would be easy to roll over:
“Toyota’s new, entirely intuitive Active Lean technology is key to i-Road’s higher levels of stability, safety, comfort and enjoyment. Working in conjunction with rear-wheel steering, controlled by a conventional steering wheel, the system has a lean actuator motor and gearing mounted above the front suspension member and linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels. An ECU calculates the required angle of lean, based on steering angle, vehicle speed and information from a gyro sensor. The system automatically moves the wheels up and down, in opposite directions, and can apply a lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.
The system also operates when i-Road is being driven straight ahead on a stepped surface, the lean actuator automatically compensating for changes in the road surface to keep the body level.
Active Lean technology gives a unique driving experience, with all the enjoyment of two-wheeler riding, exceptional manoeuvrability and a minimum turning circle of just three metres, yet with no need for the driver to keep the vehicle stable at low speeds, or when stationary.
The fact the driver doesn’t have to put his or her feet on the road surface at any time allows i-Road have a safer, weatherproof, closed body construction. Not only does this mean the driver doesn’t have to wear a helmet, there is a more car-like environment inside, with the opportunity to install heating, an audio system and Bluetooth.”