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Toyota Urges Bike Lovers To Take The I-ROAD Instead

posted 12 Mar 2013, 03:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Mar 2013, 03:44 ]

Toyota's new i-Road three-wheel electric personal mobility vehicle is making its debut at the 2013 Geneva Car Show. The company says the vehicle is no wider than its two-seater competition and its Active Lean Technology helps the vehicle lean into bends in the style of a motorbike.

ANIMATION  (TOYOTA) -  Toyota unveiled its new personal mobility vehicle, the i-ROAD, at this week's Geneva Car Show. The company says the electric-powered two-seater is designed to make urban commuting easier.

A three-wheeler, the i-ROAD measures 2.35 metres in length, 1.44 metres high and 0.85 metres wide, no wider than a conventional two-wheeled scooter, according to the company.

Using lithium-ion batteries to power a pair of two kilowatt electric motors mounted in the front wheels, Toyota claims the i-ROAD offers "brisk acceleration and near-silent running."

The firm has not confirmed any performance figures, but did reveal that the i-ROAD has a range of around 50 kilometres and can be recharged from a normal household plug in three hours.

The i-ROAD has been designed to lean into bends like a motorbike. Called Active Lean technology, the system uses an actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked to the left and right front wheels.

The amount of lean is calculated by a special engine control unit (ECU), taking into account the steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information. This is then fed back to the actuator, which automatically moves the front wheels up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.

"It is special because it has three wheels, one in the back and two in the front of the car. So it gives to the driver the opportunity to make a very tight angle with the car. This is very useful in town and this system also stabilises the car. This is a car with a roof top for the security and the turning radius measures three metres," saidSimon WidmerToyota chief of media department.

The system also works when the i-ROAD is driving over uneven surfaces, keeping the vehicle's body level by using the Active Lean Technology to compensate for any difference in the height of the road surface. Toyota says its turning circle is an impressively low three metres. The passenger compartment is weatherproof and more car-like features, including interior lighting and heating, are included.

Toyota hasn't given a price for the i-ROAD, nor confirmed when it will go into production, but revealed that it is conducting field trials on the vehicle in the French city of Grenoble.

A variety of other electric and hybrid cars have been on display at the Geneva Car Show, which runs until March 17. Subaru's VIZIV features a plug-in hybrid system that links a 2.0 litre Subaru Boxer diesel engine with a single front motor and two independent rear motors. Its Eco Cruise mode provides coordinated control and works alongside both sports and intelligent driving modes.

Mitsubishi's Concept GR-HEV was also on display, combining a 2.5L diesel engine with an electric motor to achieve lower CO2 emissions.