News: Toyota I-Road - On three wheels into the future

The future rolls on three wheels and sets spectacularly in the curve. However, the future is also reminiscent of the past, as the Toyota I-Road, chosen for future urban mobility, looks like a futuristic new edition of the legendary Messerschmitt cabin scooter from the 1950 years. Toyota Tricycle demands a clear rethink from the driver, because the extremely compact mobile is controlled via the rear wheel. On the way is Toyota's electric car in Grenoble, France, where last year began a three-year project to test the combination of individual electric mobility and public transport.

However, before the first few meters, the potential I-Road drivers have to go into a driver's course, because the tricycle with room for two people, who should understand each other very well in the face of the narrowness, requires a clear change in driving. Alone the rear wheel steering has a completely own driving behavior. In addition, there is the tilting technology, which helps the quad electric cars to spectacular cornering, in the careless newcomers but can sometimes get too far into oncoming traffic.

Once you have experienced the peculiarities of the 2,34 meter long and 87 centimeter wide I-Road, this type of electromobility brings a lot of driving pleasure, even though the comfort features are rather underdeveloped. Heater? Who needs them? The windshield is heatable, and in the greatest need could warm your hands there. Noise insulation? The I-Road proves that even electric vehicles do not always appear as pedestrian trespassers - at least in the interior, where the tires and body are unmistakably noticeable. For contemporaries who prefer conventional configurations, Toyota also offers in Grenoble the four-wheeled single-seater Coms with luggage compartment and front steering.

Both models reach a range of 35 to 50 kilometers or an operating time of three hours and belong to the project "Cité Lib by Ha: Mo", with which Grenoble wants to test the interlocking of conventional public and individual (electric) mobility. "Cité Lib" stands for a carsharing company that has been offering gasoline, hybrid, natural gas and electric vehicles for ten years in the former Olympic city. Ha: Mo is Toyota's acronym for Harmonious Mobility.

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The city had to deal with the consequences of air pollution early on because of its location on the kettles and has therefore built up an outstanding public transport infrastructure. In addition to electric vehicles, e-bikes are also available for hire. "We want to learn how urban mobility can be shaped in the future," says Jean-Yves Jault of Toyota-Europe, describing the project's objective. Whether the concept will be transferred to other cities will not be decided yet. Since last October, 35 I-Road and Coms have been in use, which can be loaded at 27 charging stations in the city area with 120 charging points. The number will increase in the future.

Before the first boarding, interested parties must register, submit their driver's license and a registration certificate. After a fee of 50 Euro and a deposit of 150 Euro deposited and completed a two-hour briefing on the peculiarities of the I-Road, the vehicles can be booked via an app (Apple and Android) and launched using a smart card. So far, around 250 interested parties have registered "and every week around 50 more customers sign up," explains Jault. After the trip, the vehicle is parked at one of the charging stations and charged. For the first 15 minutes, three euros are due, then two for the second quarter of an hour and one euro for the following 15 minutes, which results in an hourly rate of seven euros. Parking in the city is free for electric cars.

The project deliberately sees itself as a supplement to public transport in the city. "We are more expensive than buses and trains, but cheaper than a taxi," Jault explains the direction. The power for the vehicles comes, and that is not necessarily a matter of course in France, from renewable sources - especially from hydropower - so that with I-Road and Co, the environmental impact is not only locally reduced.

Author: Walther Wuttke / SP-X

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