Over the last few months, Toyota’s latest creation– the i-Road concept vehicle– has been snagging headlines for its unusual, pint-sized design. Equipped with 3 wheels (2 in the front, one in the back), this vehicle weighs ONLY 600 pounds and is just 7 FEET LONG. Why in the hell would anyone build something like this?
Well, Toyota has billed the vehicle as a solution for city gridlocks and pollution (listen up China; you need to hear this). AND making it better than a motorbike, the-i-Road offers certain necessary amenities to make a commute comfortable.
Toyota says, “This new concept in urban mobility ‘TOYOTA i-ROAD’ combines the potential of both cars and motorbikes. Based on the future of urban transport, we have worked to ensure next generation performance in terms of driving, size and environmental performance… [It’s] as easy to use as a motorbike, but without fear of getting wet in rain, and no need to wear a helmet.”
Adding to the overall innovative approach of this vehicle is the fact that Toyota is using the i-Road as part of a new ride-sharing trial in Tokyo’s downtown Ginza shopping district. That’s right; for the next 6 months, little Tokyoites will be flying around the streets on these things, renting them for 3 bucks per 15 minutes at different locales.
As of today, though, the i-Road is not officially ready for the streets because the company says that they still need to slash the costs for both the car and the car-sharing network. But they believe that will happen in due time. Why?
Well, Toshiya Hayata, group manager of Toyota’s Smart Community department, says, “Data shows that about 70 percent of cars in big cities are occupied by one person, with most travelling less than 10 km (6.2 miles). That means the mode of transportation doesn’t have to be a car.” With those types of statistics, how could the project be anything less than successful?
So, for now, they are just sitting back and refining their product, supremely confident that this vehicle has catapulted them ahead of their competitors in an attempt to create “smart” roads.
“Our concept was to offer something that’s both fun and convenient for city driving,” said i-Road chief engineer Akihiro Yanaka in an interview with Reuters. “[Our competitors don’t] have anything smaller than the Smart. If we can make it work, the i-Road could have an advantage.”