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

Article by Christian A., on March 4, 2013

Toyota revealed that the 2013 Geneva Motor Show will mark the official World Premiere of a new kind of transportation which delivers excellent flexibility that is best suited for an urban setting. This latest offering is dubbed as the i-Road Personal Mobility Vehicle (PMV). Customers who want a PMV typically want a vehicle that offers more comfort, and is safer and more weatherproof compared to a two-wheeler.

Even then, this model should continue to have the advantage of having low running costs. Further the dimensions should be compact, especially when it comes to the width. This characteristic is significant as it means parking is easier and will have the urban maneuverability that is often associated with two-wheeled vehicles in the likes of motorcycles and scooters.

There is also the compact i-Road Electric Vehicle (EV) which allows two people to sit in tandem in an enclosed and comfortable setting. One unique feature for this model is the “Active Lean” technology. With range going as far as 50 km on just one charge, the helmet-free driving experience is enjoyable, intuitive, and more importantly safe. In addition, the Active Lean system does not need any specialized driving skills in order to be activated and thus is able to deliver a driving experience that is truly distinct.

Indeed, it offers all of the enjoyment one expects from a two-wheel vehicle but will not need any help from the drive in order to stabilize when stationary or undergoing slow speed movements. It has a total length of 2,350 mm, overall height of 1,445 mm, with a wheelbase measuring 1,700 mm. However, the key dimension of this three-wheeled and ultra-compact i-Road is the width which measures 850 mm. This is much like that usual two-wheeler. What this means is that it gives the model the ability move more freely despite being in congested traffic.

In addition, it is possible to park a total of 4 PMVs on a single car parking bay. It will also have the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, the same one used in Electric Vehicles (EV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Hybrid Vehicles (HV), and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV). With this, the brand hopes to bring in the new age where different kinds of eco cars can coexist.

Thus, while HVs, PHEVs, or even FCV, are excellent for use when it comes to mid up to long distances, Toyota projects that EVs have a good likelihood of being the main mode of transportation in urban areas, where distances are shorter. Not that surprising given that the brand has at least a decade’s worth of experience when it comes to PMV research and development.

Given that it has an all-electric powertrain, it goes without saying that the i-Road has zero emissions. Inside is a lithium-ion battery supplies the power needed by the two electric motors that can offer 2 kW. Speaking of electric motors, these ones have been mounted within the wheels in the front. With an almost-silent ride mixed in with quick acceleration, this new PMV from Toyota allows for total range of at least 50 km. Should the energy be in the battery become depleted, it can be recharged in merely three hours through a standard household power outlet.

The “Active Lean” technology, the same one mentioned earlier, guarantees that the driving experience of the new i-Road will have higher levels when it comes to comfort, enjoyment, safety, and stability. For this intuitive system, it has a lean actuator motor, as well as gearing, that have been mounted on top of the front suspension member. They are then connected by a yoke to the left and right front wheels.

There is also an ECU that makes the needed calculation in order to determine how much the lean should be. The computations are based on a number factors like the vehicle speed information, gyro-sensor, and steering angle. In addition, the wheels are immediately moved up and down and in opposite directions. This system does it through the application of the lean angle in order to cancel out any of the centrifugal force encountered when cornering. With a minimum turning circle measuring 3.0 meters, this system is also activated when the PMV is being driven straight and on a stepped surface.

When this happens, the lean actuator automatically makes the necessary changes to adapt to the current road surface, ensuring that the body remains leveled. Toyota has long been committed to reducing any environmental liability and lowering energy consumption associated with the transportation industry. To meet this objective, the brand has been, for at least 4 decades, conducting studies and employing mobility solutions that are environment-friendly. The result is a wide range of eco cars that can meet any kind of user profile.

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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