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Toyota unveils the i-Road three-wheeled electric vehicle

Among the numerous prototypes unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show was Toyota’s i-Road, the Japanese manufacturer’s emission-less alternative to inner city driving. The i-Road, a three-wheeled electric vehicle with a cabin that has a “car-like environment”, is just 850mm wide and is designed for easy driving on city streets.

The three-wheeler – two front tires and one rear wheel – seats two people in tandem under a weatherproof cover and body. It is half the size of Toyota’s hybrid vehicle, the Prius, and so it may be a solution to a major city’s traffic-related problems, such as lack of parking lots. Toyota revealed that such is the i-Road’s dimensions that up to four of the vehicles could be parked in a single car parking bay.

With alternative vehicles like these, steering is always a top issue. For the i-Road, Toyota uses a lean actuator and gearing mounted above front suspension to balance the vehicle when turning corners. Toyota calls the system ‘Active Lean’ technology. A computer unit calculates the required degree of lean or tilt based on the driver’s steering angle and speed, and the steering system automatically moves the tires up and down in opposite directions, applying the tilt angle to counteract centrifugal force.


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