Public trials of an electric trike made by Toyota have commenced in the Greater Tokyo area in Japan. The aim is discover just how useful such a machine can be in everyday situations.
It would be easy to think of the i-Road as pure science-fiction on first acquaintance, with its pod-like silhouette and motorcycle-inspired handling, but Toyota is getting progressively more serious about building a version that it can sell.
Last month company trials started at Toyota City, where the i-Road was integrated into Toyota’s impressive “Ha:mo” urban mobility program, where an app synchronises personal and public transport options for maximum convenience and minimum carbon footprint.
Toyota has even gone as far as to five colours for i-Road, and says it has recently improved visibility and handling. Why bother were it merely an auto show concept?
Seen carving up suburban streets under the watchful eye of a Prius nanny driving behind, it’s clear how small and nimble the i-Road is during operation, and an in-car camera shows a panoramic view out of the wraparound windscreen.
At 300kg the i-Road is significantly heavier than a motorcycle, and its compact electric motor provides a top speed of around 30mph. A range of 31 miles also means that the tandem trike is strictly for city use.
Were Toyota to bring the i-Road to market, safety also would be an issue for many. Like the Renault Twizy, however, perhaps it’s better to see it as a safer version of the motorcycle or scooter than a fragile replacement for a car.
In any case, it’s likely that the i-Road would find buyers, as well as presenting the intriguing Lit C-1 with a three-wheeled rival.
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