Toyota’s always played its concept cards pretty close to the chest, and this year’s entries at the Geneva Motor Show are no different, especially the world-premiere of the i-ROAD. Toyota innovation doesn’t always look pretty, but giving its engineers a playground, to test even the whackiest ideas, sometimes leads to new vehicles and features that change the face of automotive technology and how we view our vehicles.
Toyota has only released a small blurb and a top-view rendering of what could be an urban-vehicle game changer, the Toyota i-ROAD concept. The press release mentions: “The Toyota i-ROAD is a compact, fun, and emissions-free personal mobility concept capable of swiftly and efficiently transporting two people in an urban environment.”
The i-ROAD is a small electric vehicle, and from the looks of it, possibly a three-wheeler. Four wheels would be more stable, but we’ve seen the three-wheeler concept before, and even in production motorcycles. Before you shout, “electric vehicles aren’t emissions-free,” don’t worry, we know that already. Just don’t drive this in West Virginia unless you’re running solar panels. Pretty much everywhere else in the US you can expect significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
Certainly the Toyota i-ROAD concept would be much more maneuverable in an urban environment than a full-size vehicle, but the tandem passenger layout, to me, is a little odd. Still, it offers protection from the elements and ought to be more comfortable than a motorcycle, while still taking up much less parking- and road-space than even compact vehicles. Personally, though, I’m tired of i-THINGs, so I hope that Toyota changes the name for production.