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Toyota i-Road Electric Vehicle Expands to France

electric vehicleThe ingenious Toyota i-Road program combines the convenience of a bike rental service, the comfort of an enclosed car and the compact footprint of a motorcycle in this electric three-wheeler that is being tested by rail commuters in Aichi, Japan in self-service vehicle-sharing stations. The program has initially been successful, with a growing amount of repeat users and high adoption rates.

There are now plans to introduce a car-sharing fleet of nearly 70 vehicles in the town of Grenoble in the French Alps, for a three-year test, starting at the end of 2014. The program is being adopted as solution for reducing greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The two-seater i-Road is designed for the “last mile” mobility needs of commuters that might otherwise bike or walk, thus complementing existing public transportation systems. Unlike a motorcycle, the enclosed cabin keeps the elements out. The i-Road has a single rear wheel that pivots and the vehicle uses an Active Lean technology for tight, stable turns. The i-Road automatically leans around corners, and Toyota says no specialized skill is required to operate it. With a width under 3 feet, the i-Road has motorcycle-like maneuverability. No helmet is required to operate the vehicle since it is enclosed, and because it can’t exceed 30 miles per hour, no driver’s licence is required to operate it.

The all-electric Toyota i-Road has a range up to 31 miles, produces zero emissions while in operation with a lithium-ion battery, and requires roughly three hours to be charged. No special charging infrastructure is required, as it can use a standard household power outlet. The i-Road uses a pair of 2-kilowatt motors, mounted within the front wheels. It can travel up to 28 miles per hour and has an ultra-compact body that is ideal for urban maneuvering. At 7.7 feet in length, it is also easier to park in urban areas. The i-Road does have an interior heating, audio and lighting system, but doesn’t appear to have air conditioning at this point.
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