SONOMA (KPIX 5) — It’s a cross between a car and a motorcycle. And a definite head turner.
It’s an i-Road –three-wheeled, all-electric and Toyota’s vision for the future in a packed urban city.
There are about 100 prototypes in the world, and some are already on the road as part of car share programs in Tokyo, Japan and France.
“It’s not a car you’d want to go to Costco or big box stores to try and do a lot of big purchases,” said Christopher Gregg, an engineer with Los Altos-based Toyota Research Institute. “It’s not something you’d want to take on long road trips, so it’s not a do everything vehicle and Americans tend to buy a vehicle that can do everything, even though they don’t need an SUV for every type of driving.”
“This is a perfect car for getting around town.”
I took the car for a spin at the Sonoma Racetrack, where the Toyota Research Institute put its latest high-tech innovations on display.
The i-Road has a 30-mile range and can go up to 37 miles per hour. Sitting behind the wheel feels like being in a little capsule flying through space.
The vehicle is good to go after a three-hour charge. It’s tiny – just 3 feet wide and 7 feet long. When you turn the steering wheel, it leans like a skier.
“Since it’s a lot smaller and only weighs about 600 pounds it needs a lot less energy to get around so it’s about three times more efficient than the best electric vehicle that’s on the market right now,” said Gregg.
The Toyota Research Institute is working on adding extra sensors, software and technology to collect more data on the i-Road. It hopes to put these on Bay Area streets in the next couple of years.