2013 Geneva Motor Show: Toyota i-Road Concept shows the Active Lean technology

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 4, 2013

Toyota unveiled today the i-Road, a personal mobility concept what will make its official debut this week at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The concept is a three-wheeler with motorcycle-like maneuverability and was designed for short-distance urban travel. The i-Road Concept has a length of 850 millimeters and outstanding maneuverability.

As a result it can be driven smoothly along roadsides, leaving road lanes open for other traffic. Moreover, the new Toyota i-Road Concept has a newly developed active lean system optimally and automatically controls vehicle body angle.

Despite its dimensions, the concept is equipped with a roof and doors so that the cabin is shielded from the weather to ensure comfort and from road noise to allow occupants to enjoy music. The concept has a curb weight of just 300 kg (661 lbs) and rides on 80/80 R16 and 130/170 R10 (front/rear) tires.

I-Road is powered by 2 kW electric motors installed in the front wheels, which draw their power from a lithium-ion battery. According to the official press release, the Toyota i-Road Concept has a maximum range of 31 miles or 50 km, while the top speed is limited to 28 mph or 45 km/h.

“The Toyota i-Road is an ultra-compact, tandem two-seater electric vehicle developed under the theme of compact and refreshing mobility. While offering an enjoyable and novel riding experience with the same level of convenience as a motorcycle, the Toyota i-Road represents a way of overcoming various obstacles, such as congested city roads, lack of parking, and other commuting issues, in the path of the development of low-carbon and sustainable urban areas.” said the press release.

Press Release

Toyota i-Road Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV)

The Toyota i-Road Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV) - a new form of transportation offering greater flexibility in the urban environment - makes its World Premiere at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

Offering a comfortable, enclosed environment for two occupants seated in tandem, the compact Toyota i-Road Electric Vehicle (EV) features unique, 'Active Lean' technology to provide a safe, intuitive and enjoyable, helmet-free driving experience over a range of up to 50 km on a single charge.

Committed to reducing energy consumption and the environmental burden attached to transportation, Toyota has been researching and implementing environmentally-friendly mobility solutions for over 40 years in the quest for the ultimate range of eco cars, designed to suit every user profile.

Through the adaption of its Hybrid Synergy Drive® technology for use in Hybrid Vehicles (HV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Electric Vehicles (EV) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV), Toyota is paving the way for several types of eco car to coexist in the future.

Whilst HVs, PHEVs and FCVs are ideal for mainstream use over mid to long distances, Toyota believes in the feasibility of EVs as a primary mode of urban transportation for shorter distances. Toyota has more than 10 years experience in the research and development of PMVs.

PMV users require a vehicle that is more comfortable, more weatherproof and safer than a two-wheeler, yet still offers the benefits of low running costs, and the compact dimensions (most notably width) to facilitate the easy parking and urban manoeuvrability associated with two-wheelers such as scooters and motorcycles.

2,350 mm long, 1,445 mm height and with a wheelbase of 1,700 mm, the ultra-compact, three-wheeled Toyota i-Road's key dimension is a width of only 850 mm, about the same as that of a conventional two-wheeler. This not only equips the Toyota i-Road with the latter's ability to manoeuvre freely through even the most congested traffic, but also makes it possible to park four of the new Toyota PMVs in a single car parking bay.

The Toyota i-Road's zero-emission, all-electric powertrain features a lithium-ion battery providing power to a pair of 2 kW electric motors mounted within the front wheels. Combining brisk acceleration with near-silent running, the new Toyota PMV has a range of some 50 km, after which it may be fully recharged from a conventional household power outlet in just three hours.

Key to the higher levels of stability, safety, comfort and enjoyment associated with the Toyota i-Road driving experience is Toyota's new, entirely intuitive 'Active Lean' technology.

The system features a lean actuator motor and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the right and left front wheels. An ECU calculates the required lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information. And the system automatically moves the wheels up and down in opposite directions, applying lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.

Offering a minimum turning circle of just 3.0 metres, the system also operates when the Toyota PMV is being driven straight ahead on a stepped surface, the lean actuator automatically compensating for changes in the road surface to keep the body level.

Requiring no specialised driving skills to operate, the Active Lean system offers a unique driving experience with all the enjoyment of two-wheeler riding and without the need for the driver to stabilise the vehicle himself during slow speed manoeuvres, or when stationary.

Because the Active Lean system obviates the need for the driver to lower his feet to the road surface at any time, the Toyota i-Road may be equipped with a safer, weatherproof, closed body construction.

This not only means that the new Toyota PMV may be driven without a helmet, but also allows for a more car-like on-board environment with the potential to benefit from such features as lighting, heating, an audio system and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity.

Toyota envisages the Toyota i-Road's all-electric individual mobility concept playing a significant role in the reduction of both congestion and air pollution within the urban environment.

With commuters using either public transport or conventional private vehicles to travel to urban perimeter transportation hubs, they then transfer to the Toyota i-Road to complete their journeys and move within the city centre.

Its compact dimensions, manoeuvrability, easy parking, rapid charging and availability in either open or enclosed cabin format make the new Toyota PMV an ideal urban transportation solution designed to reduce both inner city congestion and CO2, NOx and particulate emissions without compromising individual freedom of mobility.

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