Toyota Tests iROAD Prototype in California
Toyota is famous Stateside for its ultra-safe and reliable cars, trucks, and crossovers. But over in Japan, Toyota has been creating some different types of vehicles to determine whether or not there is a market for such contraptions. After successful testing in Japan and Grenoble, France, Toyota has brought its single-seater i-Road electric vehicle over to California to allow potential customers to test-drive it in a San Jose parking lot.
So far, the i-ROAD has been well-received by testers. In fact, Toyota business development manager Jason Schulz mentioned that “Every single person, their first reaction is, ‘This is fun!’ You can actually watch people start to grin.” When you look at the vehicle and how it moves around the slalom-like course, you can begin to understand why.
The Toyota i-ROAD is a three-wheeled electric vehicle powered by a lithium cell battery, which has a range of 40 miles, a top speed of 40 mph, and recharges in three hours. The vehicle actually leans when it enters turns at higher speeds, thanks to two gyro motors, which brings to mind a motorcyclist navigating a particularly sharp corner. If you’re not expecting it, the vehicle’s lean can be quite a shock, but the general consensus was that it’s an exciting vehicle to drive. When entering a corner, you might think that the i-ROAD is capable of tipping over, but even someone driving badly or aggressively would be hard-pressed to tip this vehicle.
As previously mentioned, the i-ROAD is a single-seater vehicle, but a small passenger could technically fit in a small compartment behind the driver’s seat. This, however, isn’t allowed by law in Japan, although the i-ROADs being tested in France are allowed to take a second person. If made available in the US, it’s doubtful that a passenger would be allowed, since the only piece of safety equipment in the i-ROAD is a seat belt.
The sale of the i-ROAD in the US is actually not as unlikely as you would think, especially in urban areas like New York or LA. “As markets continue to become more and more urban, we believe there is potential for a new, small EV that could help with short commutes or last-mile transit needs,” Schulz explained.
So keep an eye out over the next few years, and you might just see a Toyota i-ROAD navigating corners in your city!