Compact, narrow two-seaters that combine the agility of a motorcycle with the protection of the elements of a car are the new niche automotive manufacturers have discovered. After Renault’s Twizzy, Toyota today unveiled its own take in this new form of transportation in the form of the i-ROAD concept that will debut tomorrow in the 83rd Geneva Auto Show.
Like the Twizzy, it seats two in tandem but, unlike the Renault, it features one rear wheel instead of two, making it a three-wheeler that leans into corners like a motorbike. Toyota’s Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV) is controlled by a conventional steering wheel and the “Active Lean” technology that automatically balances the vehicle when cornering or going over rough surfaces based on the steering angle, vehicle speed and a gyro-sensor.
The i-ROAD is 2,350 mm long, 1,445 mm high and rides on a 1,700 mm wheelbase. Toyota says that its 850 mm width makes it no wider than a typical motorcycle, thus offering great maneuvering in traffic, easier parking and a minimum turning circle of just three meters.
The Japanese carmaker’s PMV is powered by two 2kW motors mounted on the front wheels. The typical driving range is around 50 km (30 miles) and the battery can be fully charged from a domestic power source in three hours – plus, being an EV, it has zero emissions.
In spite of being as narrow as a motorbike, the i-ROAD requires no helmet or special skills – just a regular car license. It is designed to be fitted with a weatherproof closed body and can offer a car-like environment with features such as interior lighting, heating, an audio system and Bluetooth connectivity.
By Andrew Tsaousis