Toyota i-ROAD revealed

4 Mar, 2013 3:21pm Tom Phillips

The Renault Twizy-rivalling Toyota i-ROAD has been unveiled on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show

This is the Toyota i-ROAD - a new, personal mobility vehicle designed to make urban commuting easier. The electric-powered two-seater is on display at the Geneva Motor Show, and is Toyota’s more sophisticated take on the Renault Twizy.

The i-ROAD is a three-wheeler that measures 2,350mm long, 1,445mm high and 850mm wide, with a 1,700mm wheelbase. Toyota claims that the i-ROAD is no wider than a conventional two-wheeled scooter.

The i-ROAD is smaller than the four-wheeled Renault Twizy – the Twizy is 2,337mm long, 1,191mm wide, 1,461mm high and has a 1,684mm wheelbase.

Using lithium-ion batteries to power a pair of 2kW electric motors mounted in the front wheels, Toyota claims that 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 30 miles – half that of the Twizy – and can be recharged from a normal household plug in three hours.

Despite being similar in concept to a Twizy, 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 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.

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. The final benefit of the technology is that the turning circle is kept down to three metres.

Like a Twizy, the driver doesn’t have to wear a helmet to drive an i-ROAD. However, unlike the French car, the passenger compartment is weatherproof and more car-like features including interior lighting and heating are included.

Toyota hasn’t confirmed a price for the i-ROAD, or confirmed whether it will make production.