This innovative electric three-wheeler is called the i-Road. It is the latest ‘personal mobility vehicle’ (PMV) prototype from Toyota, a company that has showcased a number of PMVs in recent years.
Intended for commuting in urban areas, the i-Road concept features two seats in tandem and simple doors made mostly of transparent plexiglass.
With an interior layout identical to that of a Renault Twizy and a roof canopy reminiscent of the enclosed BMW C1, the i-Road is a cross between a small car and a scooter.
Measuring 2350mm long and 1445mm tall but only 850mm wide, the PMV takes up the same amount of road space as a motorcycle and can be easily maneuvered through congested urban milieus. And because it is fully enclosed, it offers all-weather protection and does not require its driver to wear a helmet.
The i-Road is powered by two 2kW electric motors mounted in the front wheels. The concept’s lithium-ion battery is said to hold enough charge for a driving range of around 30 miles and take only three hours to recharge.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect is the fact that its rear wheel is charged with the steering function. As such, Toyota has devised an intuitive system to ensure the PMV’s stability is retained.
Called ‘Active Lean technology’ the system uses a lean actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels. An ECU calculates the required degree of lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information, with the system automatically moving the wheels up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.
The i-Road heralds an impressive step in personal mobility from a company that has been dabbling in this segment for a while now. Judging by how complete the concept was, it seems to be very near production as well.
As the need for a solution in increasingly crowded cities is undeniable, we’ll wait to see if the public’s reaction to the i-Road whizzing around in near total silence on the Toyota stand will be enough to convince the Japanese company to build it.
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