Date:5 March 2013
Toyota’s antidote to crowded, polluted city streets is an electric three-wheeler two-seater concept, the i-ROAD, which is making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
No wider than most motorbikes, the tandem-seat trike is enclosed, so the occupants need not wear helmets. That also, erm, opens the door for features such as lighting, heating, audio and Bluetooth. New “Active Lean” technology automatically controls tilting and balance during cornering.
Described as a PMV – personal mobility vehicle – the i-ROAD is just 2 350 mm long, with a 1 700 mm wheelbase, and stands 1 445mm high. Its width of 850 means, says Toyota, that a single parking bay will accommodate four i-ROADs.
A Li-Ion battery powers a 2 kW motor in each of the front wheels. It can manage up to 50 km on a charge, which takes 3 hours from a normal mains supply.
A lean actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member are linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels. An ECU calculates appropriate lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and speed. Wheels are moved up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering. Similarly, when driven in a straight line over stepped surfaces, the i-ROAD compensates for ride height changes to keep the body level.
The vehicle is seen as forming part of a transport system. It’s envisaged that users would take a normal transport mode from the suburbs to the urban periphery and complete their journey into the city centre by i-ROAD.