The lucky citizens of Japan are getting it now, and some folks in France will join the fray later this year, but that's about it for public, leaning-trike fun. The car in question is Toyota's three-wheeled i-Road concept electric vehicle. And in addition to being really narrow and quite environmentally friendly, this little EV leans quite a bit when it scoots around curves.

Earlier this week, the Japanese automaker started testing the super-narrow vehicles in Toyota City, Japan. They're part of a broader scheme called "Ha:mo" in which people can link shared vehicles with public transportation systems to get around with minimal environmental impact. Grenoble, France, will be the recipient of some i-Road EVs for a vehicle-sharing project that starts later this year. The i-Road weigh about 660 pounds, is less than a yard wide and has a 28 mile per hour top speed.

The i-Road was first shown off at the Geneva Motor Show early last year and shortly thereafter was the subject of a groovy video that showed a group of four cruising and leaning through the streets of a Mediterranean village in France. Check out Toyota's video on the vehicle-testing program and the official press release below and read our driving impressions here.



Show full PR text
Changing Mobility and Lives, Three Wheels at a Time

Residents of Toyota City, Japan, might be wondering what they just saw on the street. If it had three wheels and was leaning around a corner, it was the "i-Road", Toyota's ultra-compact all-electric, all-fun concept.

On Sunday, the i-Road, which weighs a mere 300 kg and is less than 90 cm wide, was let loose on public roads at an event to mark its introduction into "Ha:mo", Toyota's optimized urban transport system. Soon, even more i-Roads will be zooming around Toyota city when they are made available to residents at vehicle-sharing stations. And later this year the lucky residents of Grenoble, France, will also be able to have some three-wheeled fun, thanks to a vehicle-sharing project that will last until 2017.

Besides being an absolute blast to drive, how could the i-Road actually help you out? Well, picture the following:

You just got off work. You get a phone call. You need to get across town, pronto, because your wife just went into labor. But your car is in the shop, there's no time to call a taxi, and your co-workers with cars are stuck doing overtime. Oh, and it's raining.

What do you do?

In comes the i-Road to save the day. Luckily, there's a Toyota EV-sharing station by your office. Cool as a cucumber, you use your smartphone to plan your route: i-Road to the station 5 km away, and train straight to the hospital. You book the i-Road, and within a couple minutes you're weaving smoothly through the rush-hour gridlock. You get to the train station right on time, and, since the i-Road has a closed canopy, you didn't even wet your carefully groomed hair. Day saved, all thanks to the i-Road.


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  • 30 Comments
      dan.frederiksen
      • 9 Months Ago
      Boshiddo desu :) The low top speed, the high weight and high complexity probably means it will be high price and low appeal. A bad combination. Twizy with closed cabin and better aero and a bit lighter will destroy it.
      BipDBo
      • 9 Months Ago
      You're right. Tadpole trikes, like the Elio can be very dynamically stable. With FWD and most of the weight, on the front wheels, the Elio is a very good design for a commuter. I'm very excited about it, personally. The core problem with this iroad thing isn't it's tadpole configuration, it's the rear wheel steering. It's compounded by it's narrow footprint to CG height ratio, which is only compensated by hydraulics which you hope are fast enough to keep up with a sudden maneuver or change in balance.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      Hey.. the piaggio Mp3 has an even narrower footprint and it handles great around corners at very high speeds. The mp3 does steer with the front wheels, and has a tilting mechanism.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      No.. tadpole trikes can handle high speeds with a properly articulating front suspension. It can easily be done if a slightly wider track is used. Considering that the roads were built for vehicles at least twice as wide as this, it's possible. Just look for the Piaggio mp3 - same narrow front track, capable of high speeds, known to be stable, and it even has the disadvantage of having the rider in a less ideal position than this car.
      BipDBo
      • 9 Months Ago
      28 mph, that's it? I cruise almost that, 23-25, on my bike.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 9 Months Ago
        @BipDBo
        As a bicyclist, around our one-mile oval, 20mph is considered pretty normal.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I'm a commuter myself (averaging 15mph), but there's a very strong cycling community, and I live right next to their oval. Day in, day out, I see the guys regularly "cruising" the loop. 20mph. I'm not trying to insult anyone, and if BipDBo wants to claim he "cruises" at 23-25mph, more power to him. That's a pretty high "cruising" speed, typical of pros. BipDBo's link (as well as mine) shows 25mph to be TDF material.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Might want to recalibrate your speedo, just saying.
          BipDBo
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Thanks for the encouragement, though. :) http://www.bicycling.com/news/2011-tour-de-france/tour-features/you-versus-peloton
          paulwesterberg
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I averaged 23mph on a 90 mile bike race once. I am not a pro.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          If you're averaging 24mph, you should consider going pro.
          BipDBo
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          23-25 is not that fast, because, as I should have prefaced, that's what I dis on my last ride of about 16 miles, which had a nice break in the middle to eat a McDonald's ice cream cone. The top Tour de France riders go an average, not top speed, but average, of around 25 mph over hilly terrain on much, much longer distances. I'm one of the faster guys on my local trail, but not the fastest and a far cry from pro.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          So you're comparing your speed to an "average" TDF rider, and yet you don't consider that worthy of going pro? Such modesty. That 25 mph was actually Lance Armstrong's winning pace for his seven wins - and that dude was heavily into the drugs. "Cyclists who train fairly regularly -- i.e., average club rider -- can usually average between 16-19 mph over 20 mile rides. Bikers who train regularly, race, or are an above average club rider can maintain a 20+ mph average over a long distance -- say 60 miles or more. Keep in mind these cyclists are still amateurs. The average cycling speed of a professional racer can be over 25+ mph over a long distance -- sometimes more than 110 miles -- especially when they are bunched up cycling in a group." http://timmathisen.hubpages.com/hub/Good-Average-Cycling-Speed-For-Men In my experience (nearly two decades), 20mph is a pretty darn fast average for a regular guy. Most people are going to be averaging 15-18mph "cruising".
          2 wheeled menace
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I have a well calibrated speedo and i have been passed by many road bikers at 25mph or before. I like to plod along at 20mph on the ebike..
          BipDBo
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          What kind of biking do you ride? Do you compete or just commute? I used RunKeeper and my phone. It uses GPS, so you'd think it would be accurate, but their may be some error. It has seemed to measure around 3% more distance than the laid out running course lengths I've done. The half-ironman (70.3) worlds run within 2 blocks of my house. At least it did, but I think the city of Clearwater said, "No more." Those guys go way faster than me. I might be able to pick up one mph or so with a nice expensive carbon bike, and maybe another with some drugs, but I'll never go like those guys, at least not for 50 miles straight. Perhaps I should try to compete some day, but it's pricey. My bike is OK, but definitely sub par for racing. I've wanted to do a tri, for a while. Swimming would really be my strength. The registration fees of at minimum, like $150, and when you're the sole source of income, middle class with 4 kids, that's hard to justify on a couple of hours of race. I've done a little bit of competitive mountain biking (if you can call it that in Florida). We have some really nice, award winning technical trails in the Tampa Bay area, FL. Twice, I've done the Talon 10 hour Adventure race that had biking, running, kayaks and obstacle challenges. Like the Tough Mudder, except 10 x better. They don't do it anymore, though. :( I don't competitively sail anymore because of too much cost and commitment. That and sailing has really taken a huge downturn in the past 15 years. Sad, really. I was once on a path where, with a lot of work I may have qualified for the Olympics in Laser, but it was a long shot. Engineering and college was a decision I don't regret. I still get time to occasionally kiteboard and sail my windsurfer which I designed, built and am very proud of. I also get to take my family on my parent's sailboat occasionally. I'll make no bones about it. I live an active and privileged life and I'm very grateful for it. I've been doing a lot of running. Have done 2 Tough Mudders. Finished the last one in around 2:10. Did my first half marathon a few weeks ago at 1:44.11. I've made a lot of progress in running this year. That's around 20th percentile in my 30-34 age bracket, which is a pretty competitive one, and I'm moving up to the next one in two months. I'm actually doing my first marathon tomorrow morning. It's a trail course with a few terrain and water obstacles. I hope my knees can take it. My long term goal is to one day compete and complete a full Ironman.
          BipDBo
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          That's pretty fast Paul. I've never biked that far but I know if I did I could not average 23. The hills on the Tour de France take out about 5mph off average speed. On flat ground those pros cruise at closer to 30. I did pretty well today on my marathon. It was a trail run. The terrain, high grass, obstacles and longer distance really slowed down my pace from the half marathon but I finished really close to the top of the pack. Same with biking. You can't compare my short ride on flat ground to hilly 55k legs of the Tour.
      John
      • 9 Months Ago
      and if there smart they will make sure the vehical cant be checked back in till its plugged in !
      John
      • 9 Months Ago
      there is realy no longer a need for an office away from home any talking can be done over the phone or internet along with work its all a waist of time traveling to some building when everything can be done at home via a computer laptop hell even a phone to type a report if they want to see you use a web cam reduces long term expenses
      SublimeKnight
      • 9 Months Ago
      Come on LIT motors... get that C1 done.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 9 Months Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        No kidding. The C1 is quite a wonder. I really hope it makes it to production. Now *that* is an aerodynamic vehicle if i've ever seen one.
      dan.frederiksen
      • 9 Months Ago
      C1 suffers from the same as this one. High complexity and low appeal. If we ignore that they will never bring it to market.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      Super cool; but why the low top speed? it can't keep up with traffic on most public streets.. and you can't drive it in the bike lane, can you? Why do companies even bother designing vehicles for such a low speed? your average scooter or small motorcycle can go faster than this. In fact, i have even seen road bicyclists going this speed with spandex, an expensive aerodynamic frame, and triathlon bars.. Seems self-defeating to spend so much money on something that isn't practical. Well, my boner for this trike is gone. Back to obsessing over Elio motors' trike..
        BipDBo
        • 9 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        It's probably a function of it's core design. It leans using, I'll speculate, sensors, a computer and hydraulics. Steering is through the rear wheel. It's not a naturally dynamically stable design. The design's natural kinetic path is a quick turn into a death roll. The computer and hydraulics can probably keep it stable at low speeds but not faster, especially if something unexpected were to happen like hitting an animal, the wind from a passing truck or a flat tire. Segways and one wheel motorcycles do work, but are limited to low speeds for the same reasons. Swept forward wings for supersonic jets have aerodynamic advantage, but have had very little success because they are dynamically unstable and tend to go out of control and snap off their wings. I once built a swept forward windsurf fin with this idea in mind, but it experienced that exact fate. Just because something can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done. The Elio trike, however, is simple and dynamically stable.
          BipDBo
          • 9 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          Drive a Reliant Robin at highway speeds backwards. I'll find out how it went from your next of kin.
          PeterScott
          • 9 Months Ago
          @BipDBo
          rear wheel steering angles is computer controlled and is almost dead straight at higher speeds, where you turn mainly from lean angle. There is no issue going higher speeds, with this kind of setup.
        Warren
        • 9 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        It is designed for cities in Japan. Driving faster than 28 mph will have you running over about 500 bicyclists, losing your license for life, going to jail for manslaughter. The world is not LA.
          Warren
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Warren
          The US is the exception for cuties, not the rule.
          Warren
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Warren
          The exception for cities, not cuties...no edit function. :-(
          2 wheeled menace
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Warren
          The world is definitely not congested cities in Japan.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Warren
          Oh? America is the only place people drive at over 28mph?
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