Toyota pulled the wraps off its futuristic i-Road concept ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. The all-electric, three-wheeled, two-seat personal mobility vehicle (PMV) is innovative in more than just its diminutive footprint – it can also lean into corners like a motorcycle.
The automaker calls the innovative leaning system Active Lean, and the tech helps to keep the ultra-skinny i-Road stable during driving. A lean actuator is mounted above the front suspension member, and an ECU calculates the amount of lean required based on steering angle, vehicle speed, and a gyroscopic sensor. The actuator will then move the front two wheels up and down in opposite directions to cause the i-Road to lean into the turn. That not all the innovative technology does, either – the Active Lean mechanicals also help to smooth out the PMV's ride by compensating for road imperfections by keeping the body level.
Active Lean is important because of the i-Road's tiny size. At 92.5 inches long, 33.5 inches wide and 56.9 inches tall, the i-Road is easily dwarfed by the Scion iQ. Dimensionally, the iQ is roughly two feet longer and literally twice as wide as the i-Road, although the PMV is just 2.2 inches shorter than the boxy Scion. Granted the iQ has room for more passengers than the concept. Toyota also claims that the PMV's itty-bitty size means that four can be parked in one normal-sized parking spot.
Power for the i-Road concept is supplied by a lithium-ion battery pack to a set of two-kW motors, one in each mounted in the front wheels. Range is estimated to be around 30 miles, but full recharge time is a quick three hours from a regular 220-volt household outlet.
This isn't the first PMV Toyota has rolled out: it sowed off the i-unit in 2005 and the i-Real in 2007, although both of those were more like motorized chairs than fully enclosed vehicles. Stay tuned for the i-Road concept's official unveil later this week, and click here for all of the news and images from the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.