Toyota has taken further steps in realising its ambition of presenting the future of city mobility after launching public trials of its i-Road vehicle innovation.
The compact, electric, three-wheeled machine is a vision of how people will travel around built-up city areas in the future. Not only is it efficient, it also takes up minimal space, leading to fewer parking headaches in urban environments.
In the latest trials, it is hoped Toyota will get a real idea of how well the i-Road performs in every-day situations.
If you happen to be in the Tokyo area, you might just be lucky enough to see one of the ten vehicles making their way across the city streets.
Some 20 people are participating in the public trials, ranging from experts in the automotive industry to general members of the public. It is hoped this will give Toyota a broad spectrum of opinions, so they can assess what the machine is like to drive and how easy it is to use.
It is also hoped that Toyota can formulate an idea as to how the vehicle alters people’s decisions in terms of what route to take, and how satisfied they are when they take to the wheel.
The vehicle was first unveiled as a concept at last year’s Tokyo motor show, but it has since generated a great deal of interest.
Since its appearance at the show, it has undergone changes to improve visibility and ease manoeuvrability. These have now been applied to the models that are currently being trialled in Tokyo.
It weighs just 300kg which aids handling and control, while also making it exceptionally nimble – perfect for the unpredictable city roads.
While it perhaps moves like a scooter, it remains as stable as car, thanks to the wheel configuration. Two are featured at the front while the other sits at the back, making it even more stable and reliable.
Toyota hopes the little mobility machine will transform community-based transport, improving travel speeds, minimising traffic and significantly cutting pollution.
It is powered by two efficient electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. On a single charge, the i-Road can travel as far as 30 miles at speeds of up to 18.6mph. Top speed of the model is 37mph – although travelling this fast will reduce the car’s range.
It’s an interesting insight into the future of city motoring. You can almost picture hundreds of these little machines weaving their way around the city.
Perhaps the i-Road won’t catch on instantly, especially among the customers who are perhaps a little self-conscious. It does, after all, mimic the kind of mobility scooter that carries pensioners around the town.
However, with a few tweaks and some favourable reviews here and there, the i-Road could potentially be the future of city driving.
The quirky little Toyota certainly seems like it would be a whole lot of fun to zip around the city in!
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