​Toyota i-Road Radical EV Concept Begins Consumer Testing - What You Need to Know

When Toyota unveiled its radical “i-Road” concept at the 2014 Geneva auto show, it looked like another one of those odd ideas that would never come to market. “Not so fast,” says Toyota. Starting March 24, the three-wheel personal mobility vehicle will begin real-world testing in Japan.

​Toyota i-Road Radical EV Concept Begins Consumer Testing - What You Need to Know
The new Toyota i-Road EV concept looks like one wild ride.

Haven’t heard about this concept? Here is what you need to know.

Why Three Wheels

The three-wheeled concept responds to the problem facing heavier and more expensive EV vehicles that aren’t any better at moving through cities. Instead, the i-Road can more efficiently move through urban areas without being caught up in congestion. Officially, Toyota calls it a “personal mobility vehicle.”

Toyota’s i-Road concept meets the goal of being lighter and smaller. It is just 33.5 inches wide, 56.9 inches high and 92.5 inches long. This means it is basically half the width of a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive vehicle.

Early news reports claimed it was a two-seater (riding in tandem), yet a new Toyota press release says it can hold one.

A good thing about the concept is the driver being protected from the weather with a fully enclosed body. Toyota says that since it is fully enclosed, you wouldn’t need a helmet.

As for range, Toyota says it can travel 30 miles and needs three hours to completely recharge.

Consumer testing in Japan begins with “limited trails of approximately 20 test participants ranging from member of the general public to trend and industry experts,” according to a Toyota press release.

Toyota has released the specifications of the i-Road it will use for the trial.

​Toyota i-Road Radical EV Concept Begins Consumer Testing - What You Need to Know
With a skinny width and short body, the i-Road can quickly make its way through traffic.

Toyota i-Road (Used in Toyota City and Tokyo Verification Testing) Main Specifications

Length 2,345 mm
Width 870 mm
Height 1,455 mm
Wheel base 1,695 mm
Curb weight 300 kg*2
Tire size Front 80/90R16
Rear 120/90R10
Occupancy 1
Minimum turning radius 3.0 m
Powertrain 2 electric motors
Maximum speed 60 km/h
Cruising range on a single charge 50 km*3
Battery type Lithium-ion
​Toyota i-Road Radical EV Concept Begins Consumer Testing - What You Need to Know
Toyota will make 5 different colors for the consumer trial in Japan.

Innovative Drivetrain

The exterior and interior are quite impressive, yet the best innovation may be in the self-righting front-wheel Active Lean technology. Toyota says this system uses a geared actuator affixed to each of the front wheel’s suspension wheels.

This article explains how it works:

A computer manages the degree of lean of each front wheel—as the angle of lean of one wheel increases, the other lowers by the same amount—using steering angle, a gyroscope, and vehicle speed to induce lean in corners or keep the i-ROAD steady at low speeds. The system also can filter out potentially balance-upsetting road imperfections when traveling in a straight line. The i-ROAD is steered using a squircle-shaped steering wheel rather than a set of handlebars.

Another interesting part of the i-ROAD is the front-wheel drive setup. This isn’t your typical front-wheel driven vehicle. Each wheel features its own 2.7hp hub electric motor powered by a shared lithium-ion battery.

While this concept isn’t a practical solution to all our automotive needs, it could have a role in urban areas. With zero emissions and decent range, the i-Road may just well be coming to a city near you.

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Tim is an automotive journalist and contributor to many sites. He mainly covers the full-size truck market because according to him "that's where its at. Hello?" A native of Michigan who ran to Colorado as soon as he could, he enjoys writing, sports, golf and spending time with his wife and three kids.

6 thoughts on “​Toyota i-Road, Radical EV Concept Begins Consumer Testing – What You Need to Know”

  1. Hey Tim, you beat me to it! I like the idea of the i-Road. It’s like the best of the Piaggio three-wheel scooter and Renault’s Twizzy. I hope they’ll bring it out to the US. There is such a under-served market between cars and road-going golf carts. The i-Road hits the perfect middle.

  2. Hey Nicolas, sorry about stealing a bit of your thunder! I thought you were having so much fun driving the EV’s that I would write about this one.

    I’ll be curious to see this all unfolds and whether or not this goes mainstream.


    1. Not at all, Tim. The more, the merrier. I always enjoy reading EV news from fellow automotive journalists. I think the i-Road will do great in Europe, and probably very well in cities here. I feel people are ready, but I wonder about their reaction to a small three wheel commuter. I love the concept, and it would be perfect for my city run around.

      The other option is an electric motorcycle, so having a roof, makes sense.

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