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Hoovey2411 10-08-13 02:00 PM

Toyota confirms i-Road electric trike for production
Toyota confirms i-Road electric trike for production


The wacky, three-wheeled Toyota i-Road we saw in Geneva earlier this year will be heading to production. But before you run down to your local Toyota dealer looking for one of these all-electric "personal mobility" vehicles, chances are, you'll never actually see one unless you visit Japan.

Announced at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) expo last week, Toyota said that the i-Road would be used as a part of the Ha:Mo car-sharing system in Japan. Weighing in at around 661 pounds, with a 28-mile-per-hour top speed and a two-passenger seating arrangement, the i-Road seems more like a fully enclosed scooter than a car, but it does offer a 30-mile driving range and has a nifty articulating front suspension that leans into corners. As for Ha:Mo, Toyota says that the number of cars in the program will increase from 10 prior to October 1 to 100 by the middle of this month, and the number of stations will almost double from 13 up to 21.


Toyota City Optimized Urban Transport System to Expand
TMC to Exhibit 'Toyota i-Road' Personal Mobility Concept Car at CEATEC Japan 2013

Toyota City, Japan, September 26, 2013-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces that it will expand the "Ha:mo"1 optimized urban transport system undergoing operational trials in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture since October 2012. The expansion will take effect on October 1.

In addition, TMC will exhibit the "Toyota i-Road" personal mobility concept car, which is to be introduced for use in the Ha:mo system, at the Cutting-edge IT & Electronics Comprehensive Exhibition (CEATEC) Japan 2013 to be held at the Makuhari Messe international convention complex in Chiba City from October 1 to 5.

Ha:mo, a collective name, is an urban transport system designed to provide transport that is amenable to users, cities and society as a whole by optimally combining personal mobility vehicles such as automobiles with public transportation. The system comprises "Ha:mo Ride", a compact electric vehicle sharing service that meets the need for short-distance urban transport, and the provision of multi-modal routing information on optimal means of transportation taking into consideration both total carbon dioxide emissions and convenience according to current road conditions and public transportation operating status.

Ha:mo System Changes

1. Increase in number of ride-sharing vehicles
Forty-five additional Toyota Auto Body-produced "COMS" car-sharing electric vehicles will be added to the current fleet of 10 on October 1, and the total number of vehicles will be increased to 100 by mid-October2. In addition, vehicle access and operation will be made keyless.
Fifty-two Yamaha Motor "PAS" power-assisted bicycles will be added to the current fleet of 10 units on October 1, with plans calling for the fleet to expand to 100 units.
TMC will further develop the Toyota i-Road personal mobility concept car as a one-seater electric vehicle and introduce it for use in the Ha:mo system in around early 2014. With an ultra-compact package offering the convenience of a motorcycle and a new type of driving pleasure, the Toyota i-Road is expected to fulfill a wide range of user needs.

2. Increase in number of vehicle stations
The number of vehicle stations where users can rent and return vehicles will be increased in stages from the current total of four locations, adding 13 locations on October 1 and further increase to 21 locations by mid-October.
The new stations will be located near main train stations, major public facilities, commercial facilities and TMC offices in Toyota City where use by large numbers of commuters is expected. One-way use between vehicle stations, one of the key features of Ha:mo Ride that meets the needs of diverse users, will continue.

3. Trials of Fee-based Sharing Service
To verify the effectiveness and commercial feasibility of the sharing service, a use-based fee system will be introduced on October 1, with no membership or monthly charges. For the COMS, the fee will be 200 yen for the first 10 minutes of use and 20 yen for each additional minute thereafter.
A supply-and-demand fee system, including discounts for round trips, will be introduced in mid-November to improve the distribution of vehicles at certain stations. Use trends will be identified and the relationship between fee levels and use frequency will be investigated.

4. Greater convenience through provision of multi-mode route information
The addition of Ha:mo Ride service information to the multi-modal route guidance will enable the suggestion of new route options using Ha:mo Ride in cases where vehicle stations are located in the vicinity of the departure or destination.
Users will be able to make reservations to use Ha:mo Ride easily by accessing the Ha:mo Ride smart phone application from a linked icon on the route.
To increase the convenience of bus use, the system will be linked to a Hitachi, Ltd.-developed integrated bus operations management system to enable riders to easily access a list of the schedules and routes of multiple bus companies.
To enable the service to act as a regional traffic information portal, plans call for the addition of certain functions and information, such as push-type notifications of predicted traffic congestion along registered user routes as well as a route recommendation function and weekly traffic congestion forecasts that encourage the use of different roads and transportation methods.

5. Increase in number of Ha:mo members
In conjunction with the increase in vehicles and vehicle stations, the number of members is aimed to rise from the current approximate total of 100 to approximately 1,000. A one-month campaign (including a reduced base fee) will start on October 1 to promote the benefits of membership to a wide range of users.
Length 2,350 mm
Width 850 mm
Height 1,445 mm
Wheel base 1,700 mm
Vehicle weight
(without occupants or cargo) 300 kg
Tire size Front: 80/80R16
Rear: 130/70R10
Capacity Two
Minimum turning radius 3.0 m
Powertrain Electric motors (2kw × 2)
Maximum speed 45 km/h*1
Cruising range on a single
charge 50 km*2
Battery Lithium-ion battery

Hoovey2411 10-11-13 11:08 AM

Goofy little thing. Wonder if I could fix a golf bag carrier to it

Hoovey2411 11-04-13 03:16 PM

First Drive: Testing Toyota's three-wheel, leaning i-Road trike in Japan
Testing Toyota's three-wheel, leaning i-Road trike in Japan


Since 2003, Toyota has been rolling out new personal mobility concept vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show. The first was simply called the PM – for Personal Mobility – in 2003. After that came the i-Unit in 2005, the i-Swing in 2005 and again in 2007, along with two takes on the i-Real in 2007 and 2009. Even though the PM had a canopy and was conceived for urban use, it was little more than a chair on wheels, and the concepts that followed shed the canopy and actually were chairs on wheels.

Toyota engineers said they gathered feedback on those four visions of single-person transport in order to come up with its latest concept, the i-Road. It takes elements from the previous concepts and puts them together in a package that is much more road ready. And unlike those other efforts, the i-Road is going into production.

After visting a Ha:mo carsharing station in Toyota's Ecoful Town, we were given a brief chance to drive the i-Road in a large parking lot, and it only took one loop to know that we'd love to have this trike in Los Angeles.

Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the i-Road was set in the middle of a triangular stand far away from anything but a zoom lens. The first of Toyota's personal mobility concepts to be unveiled away from Tokyo, you didn't need to get close to it to understand that it was weird, and its canted cockpit signaled that it was another conceptual vision most at home in anime and movies.

Not only is it for the here-and-now (if you live in Japan), but it actually couldn't be easier to use. You get into it as if it were a car – it has doors on both sides – sit down and press the button to start. It's self-balancing, so there's no need any driver input nor dropdown wheels when it comes to a stop. To get going, press the D button to the left of the steering wheel, and voilà, you're on the move.

The way the i-Road turns is a variation on the rotating front wheels used on the i-Real. Just behind the headlight is a "central turning point" that's the heart of the Active Lean technology, essentially a rotary gear and yoke that extends across the vehicle, the ends of the yoke attached to arms that connect to the front wheels. When the driver turns the steering wheel, a computer figures out how much to turn the 10-inch rear wheel – only the rear wheel turns, the 16-inch front wheels don't. Then the computer figures out the lean angle needed to make the requested turn, the central turning point rotates the yoke, which leans the front wheels over and thereby leans the i-Road into a turn. Control arms that run from the hubs to the underside of the body are good for about 35 degrees of rotation, the whole system allowing for a 26.5-degree maximum lean angle. Another benefit: on uneven road surfaces, the Active Lean system can vary the angle of the wheels while keeping the body level.

Toyota says the i-Road embodies "a new type of driving pleasure," and they're right. Engineers wouldn't give us details on the lithium-ion battery, but it's enough to keep the 300-kilogram i-Road peppy under acceleration and brisk all the way to its 28 mph top speed via its pair of two-kilowatt electric motors. Doing figure-eights in the parking lot where we were allowed to drive it, the sensation is unlike anything outside of an amusement park, and it was no effort to imagine we were driving something out of Ghost in the Shell or Vexille.

There is the minutest lag between turning the steering wheel and settling fully into a turn, as the computer assesses the sharpness of the angle and the speed at which you're traveling. Throw on a bunch of lock at maximum velocity and the i-Road will scrub off some speed in order to get close to the steering angle you've requested. If you need it to turn more sharply, then you press the brakes to reduce the speed further and get more lean. If you're in a turn at a constant speed and press the brakes, the i-Road will begin to 'stand up' as the speed decreases; come to a stop in the middle of a turn and the i-Road will be upright by the time you've come to a halt.

It feels solid when driving, and relative to the cars and bikes on Japanese roads, certainly substantial enough to hold its own. The front seat is perfectly comfortable for a full-sized adult and the rear seat roomy enough for another, but it's ideally left to those of smaller stature, like children (or cargo). Toyota says it's only as wide as a motorcycle, but at 35.4 inches across, we're talking about one of your bigger bikes – it's half an inch shy of the BMW R1200s Enduro. That leaves it skinny enough for a small footprint for parking, but you won't be darting through traffic. The 50-km range (31 miles) is only a legit number when coasting at speed, however. We were told that it's probably got a 40-km range (25 miles) when used in the stop-and-go of urban traffic.

The i-Road will be going into service as part of the Ha:Mo – Harmonious Mobility – carsharing system in Japan and will be part of a similar system being introduced in Grenoble, France next year. Ha:mo began in October of 2012 with four vehicle stations, 11 COMS single-person electric vehicles and 10 PAS electric bicycles made by Yamaha. Along with the addition of the i-Road the service is taking the next step in scale and usability, adding 17 more stations, 89 more COMS EVs, 90 more electric bicycles and opening the service up to 1,000 members. The French experiment will see around 20 mobility stations built in Grenoble serving 70 electric vehicles, and will last from roughly the end of 2014 to the end of 2017.

Each park is a small solar power station; ten solar panels (each with a maximum output of 2.1 kW) line the front of the station, and the roof is clear in order to maximize the available sunlight. They charge a 7.8-kWh lead-acid battery that can power any of the Ha:mo vehicles – and reduce the draw from the grid – and household appliances in an emergency via the power outlets. It works in large part like Daimler's Car2Go, with the exception that the Ha:mo vehicles have to be returned to one of the 21 Smart Mobility Parks. That means users need to find a mobility park that has an available space; if the six COMS and five PAS parking spots are full at the nearest station, a user will need to use the smartphone app to find a station with an open space and will continue to pay for the use of a vehicle until that's done. One-way trips are fine, and Toyota is experimenting with different fee structures to improve the distribution of available vehicles.

After that, it's a system we're familiar with. Members carry an account card that gets them access to the vehicles. The large monitor in the center of the station provides information on the charge of each EV and bicycle. All a user has to do is evaluate the cleanliness of the chosen vehicle and rate it on the app, place his or her card over the reader on the vehicle, whereupon it will be unlocked, and they're off. The price of a COMS EV will be 200 yen ($2.50 US) for the first ten minutes, 20 yen (20 cents) each additional minute and, if you use it to go shopping, say, we were told you'd pay one or two yen (1-2 cents) per minute while it's parked in a standard spot.

The addition of the i-Road will mean an almost-complete selection of city-minded offerings in Ha:mo; about the only thing missing would be a two-seater, fully enclosed vehicle – something like a Smart Fortwo, say. The COMS has a slightly higher top speed than the i-Road but the same range, and it has a flap that can be zipped up in bad weather. We'll have to wait to find out how the i-Road will be integrated into Ha:mo, since each station only has eleven spots, and at the moment, they're all spoken for. If the i-Road was currently equipped with a self-parking feature, then you could fit four of them into one space to replace one COMS EV (the scooter/bicycle side doesn't have the plug-in chargers). Without that, the wide-opening doors of the i-Road means it would have to be one-to-one.

It will take scale to know how it all works together, but it looks like that won't be a problem as far as the COMS EVs are concerned: we were told that convenience store giant 7-11 has ordered 13,000 of them - at a cost of 600,000 to 700,000 yen apiece (roughly $6,100 to $7,200 US) - to use for home delivery services.

When we say we'd like i-Roads in LA, what we mean is that we think they'd be perfect for the beach communities where we live. In the same way that this is about the only part of town where we see any Smart Fortwos, we think the i-Road would be a perfect addition to a location where electric cars are appreciated, the problem of road congestion gets larger every day, the weather is just about always great and the i-Road comes with its own parking space. Add a surfboard rack on top and a dog seatbelt in the back, and they would be in continuous use. If not that, well, we suppose there's always Ha:mo NAVI and the bus.

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