Every new car – or concept car – introduced by manufacturers generates a buzz somewhere with someone. But I just got wind of the new Toyota i-Road single passenger vehicle recently and I think it deserves a good look. Part car, part motorcycle, I can't help but think how well this can work in today's situation of high gas prices, clogged roads, and full parking lots. Check out this video for an idea of what the i-Road experience is like.
The driving event in Japan
On March 2 of this year, an i-Road test drive event was held in Ecoful Town, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The local residents who participated were all amazed at the new drive experience. First they needed a little initiation to the new driving experience, but then they were turned loose with the i-Road on public roads and felt total unity with the EV. All exclaimed it to be a truly exhilarating driving experience.
Perfect for short distance driving
The compact i-Road design EV is easy to handle, and it gives the driver the sensation of being at one with the machine as it speeds along narrow streets with ease. This new mobility style contributes to the alleviation of traffic congestion, minimizes parking space and helps to ensure clean cities thanks to low CO2 emissions.
The all-electric Toyota i-Road has a range up to 31 miles, produces zero emissions while in operation with a lithium-ion battery, and requires roughly three hours to be charged. No special charging infrastructure is required, as it can use a standard household power outlet. The i-Road uses a pair of 2-kilowatt motors, mounted within the front wheels. It can travel up to 28 miles per hour and has an ultra-compact body that is ideal for urban maneuvering. At 7.7 feet in length, it is also easier to park in urban areas.
The Toyota i-Road ultra compact EV attracted great attention at the Geneva International Motor Show and Tokyo Motor Show of 2013, and now it has made its debut on public roads.
It is safer than a motorcycle and I have seen to many reported motorcycle accident deaths this year in Las Vegas to ever want to see one of my kids on one
- The sloping turns are cool – watch the video
- It will be incredibly fuel efficient
- It will be incredibly easy to park
- Traversing the surface streets in Las Vegas in one of these would be a breeze
In Japan – and now France as well – it has been introduced as a "shared" driving experience…much like a bike rental system. I do think that, in the right market, it can catch on as a personal vehicle experience. The final word on whether or not this can become popular in the US will rely on safety, advertising, applicable driving and safety laws and regulations, and timing. Yes, timing…which based on Las Vegas' still "down" economy means that it needs to be priced right for the timing, or the timing needs to be just right for its introduction. One other obstacle at this point may be speed. While the small Iowa town I grew up in has speed limits of 25 miles per hour, most Vegas roads are 35-45 mph, making the i-Road's current top speed a potential problem.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Toyota. The opinions and text are all mine.