Toyota just unveiled its new i-ROAD concept – an all-electric three-wheeled trike that is set to debut this week at the Geneva Motor Show. Toyota says that the two-seater i-ROAD is the perfect vehicle for city streets. It offers the same low running costs, easy parking and around-town maneuverability as a motorcycle or scooter, but its fully enclosed interior makes it a safer alternative.
Seating two in tandem and under cover, i-ROAD is an electric vehicle with a range of up to 30 miles on a single charge. Using ‘Active Lean’ technology, it is safe, intuitive and enjoyable to drive, with no need for driver or passenger to wear a helmet. The ultra-compact, three-wheel i-ROAD is only 92 inches long and 57 inches high and only 35 inches wide. The i-ROAD concept is no wider than a conventional two-wheeler, which means four can be parked in a single parking bay.
The i-ROAD concept is powered by an all-electric powertrain that uses a lithium-ion battery to power two 2kW motors mounted in the front wheels. Driving range is around 30 miles, after which the battery can be fully recharged from a conventional domestic power supply in three hours.
Toyota has created a new intuitive Active Lean system is the key to i-ROAD’s high levels of stability, safety, comfort and fun-to-drive character. 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. No special skills are needed to drive the i-ROAD since the Active Lean system offers a unique driving experience with the enjoyment of riding a two-wheeler, but with no need for the driver to stabilize the vehicle when at low speeds or when stationary.
Toyota sees the i-ROAD concept has the potential to play a significant role in reducing urban traffic congestion and air pollution.