Everything may be bigger and better in Texas, but don’t tell Toyota that. This week, the automaker brought its tiny i-Road, a vehicle you may not know even existed, to the Lone Star State. It’s an electric, zero emissions, three-wheeler and has a sister, the four-wheeler, super-compact Coms.
Toyota brought both vehicles to Dallas for a test drive event it dubbed the i-Rodeo. The event gave 65 drivers a chance to take demo units out for some paces and generally see what they’re all about. Researchers want to get a feel for the market and get feedback on how drivers can see these type of vehicles fitting into their urban lifestyles.
“As we look for ways to ease congestion in major hubs like the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, we are exploring how these types of electric vehicles may fit into the transportation landscape. We’re excited to show Texans where these advanced technologies could take us,” says Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America.
Toyota also ran a similar event this past February in California. Along with these two U.S. demonstration programs, Toyota is also running car sharing programs in Grenoble, France and Toyota City, Japan with demonstration cars. Next month in Tokyo, Toyota is loaning i-Roads to individual drivers to really get a feel for the market.
The i-Road runs on a lithium-ion battery and gets about 31 miles per charge and goes up to 35 mph. With this in mind, it should do well with drivers who make small trips with limited parking options.
Both the Coms and the i-Road are single seaters. The tiny i-Road measures approximately 34.25 inches wide and only needs about half, to a quarter size, parking area of a normal car. The four-wheeled Coms is slightly larger and offers a little bit of storage in the back. The four-wheel Coms is basically a miniature car. But the three-wheels of the i-Road make it ride like an enclosed scooter creating an experience that takes some getting used to. Toyota comments that, “It’s just like skiing! The more you drive the better it gets.”
It is debatable whether skiing actually gets better with time, but the i-Road does possess the ski-like quality of shifting from side to side to make turns. It does this by having two front wheels that move up and down independently. The tilting is calculated by the car and requires no driver training. This helps make it a much safer option to a motorbike.
The i-Road is still only a concept and you can’t buy one anywhere in the world. The Coms is available in Japan. You can check out some video of the i-Road in action in Japan below.