Meet the Toyota iRoad

Toyota i-Road 24
Mar 14

Toyota puts its three-wheel i-Road car on public streets

Electric vehicles can be practical and compete on a level playing field with internal combustion automobiles. Japan and France are the two countries lucky enough to experience Toyota’s iRoad three-wheeled electric vehicle for themselves. Road testing began last week in Toyota City and is expected to reach France later this year. About 2% of the weight of a Proterra electric bus, the iRoad is a 660-pound, 33-inch wide capsule from the future that seats one average-sized human and tops out at 28 mph. It looks like a cross between a motorcycle, a golf cart, and a Segway. The vehicle that defies classification is powered by two 2-kW in-wheel electric motors up front and has a range of about 30 miles.

Toyota refers to the system as Active Lean technology, and it essentially works by monitoring steering wheel input, vehicle speed, and angle of lean of each wheel. A computer instructs a suspension-mounted actuator to provoke lean in one direction or the other during turns and keep the wheels upright under steady conditions, while ensuring the two wheel angles are always in sync.