Toyota i-Road Concept
I have attended the Chicago Auto Show for the last two years. By and large it is a great experience and a great opportunity to see many great cars, trucks and SUVs up close and personal. Then there is the
goofy shit idyllic concept vehicles that certain manufacturers just keep parading around from car show to car show until it either goes into production or it just goes away. Toyota has an example of one of these examples of drunk engineering the future of transportation that keeps showing up in Chicago, called the Toyota i-Road Concept. It’s hard to describe what exactly the i-Road is, except to say I don’t want any part of it.
The fact sheets will tell you that the i-Road is a self-balancing personal transportation device. Think of one of those segway scooters that get dudes laid all the time that you sit on instead. It has three wheels, with two in front and a single wheel in the back that handles the bulk of the steering. The driver and a very small passenger sit tandem. The controls look like a base trim Toyota Yaris with everything ripped out except the steering wheel, blinker lever and some kind of shitty dashboard. There is even an accelerator, brake pedal and what appears to be an emergency brake. Though I would bet you could stop this little bastard like you were Fred Flintstone.
Presumably, you sit in this plastic bubble with doors on either side and drive like you would if you only have half of a Toyota Corolla to work with. Wayne Cunningham, an automotive technology writer for cnet.com drove this thing. And loved it. He actually wrote these words about the Toyota i-Road in an article with his name on it:
“Behind the wheel of the Toyota i-Road, I felt as graceful as Yuzuru Hanyu winning the gold for figure skating in the 2014 Olympic Games,” Cunningham wrote. “I leaned smoothly over through one turn, then fluidly rolled over to the other side for an ensuing opposite turn, driving through a cone course Toyota had set up in a parking lot in San Jose.”
Whatever, dude. This one-third of a golf cart looks like something a gang of ne’er-do-wells would pick up and throw over a bridge at the beginning of a Police Academy movie. And by gang I mean, maybe, two guys.
The technology that makes the i-Road so stable allows for the front wheels to raise and lower through turns. It is apparently pretty hard to tip the i-Road over off its wheels. Testing is currently happening in Japan and Grenoble, France. An official appearance in the U.S. market isn’t currently planned, but if it does, you can be sure some nerd is going to refer to this affront to tasteful driving as, “his Hog.”