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Toyota i-Road: Electric transport for one (pictures)

An odd little conveyance, the narrow Toyota i-Road offers easy urban transit under electric power, but it's real party trick comes when it leans into a turn.

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Antuan Goodwin, Wayne Cunningham
Toyota i-Road concept
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Toyota brought a couple of its i-Road electric vehicle prototypes to California to gauge public opinion. CNET took the opportunity for a ride.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The i-Road is a three-wheel single seater designed for quick urban transport.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The i-Road's lithium-ion electric battery gives it a range of 30 miles, ample for city distances.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The front wheels are each driven by an electric motor of 2 kilowatts. The i-Road's top speed is 37 mph.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The rear wheel turns, giving the i-Road a turning radius of about 9 feet.

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There is no direct linkage between the steering wheel and rear wheel. An electric motor turns the pod holding the wheel.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The front wheels each have their own adjustable suspension.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The steering wheel is straight from the Toyota parts bin.

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Doors open on either side of the cabin, making for flexibility in access and parking.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The push-button drive selector includes reverse.

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With three wheels, the i-Road is self-supporting and does not need a kickstand.

Toyota i-Road concept
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With plastic body panels, the i-Road weighs 660 pounds.

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The canopy and windshield wiper make the i-Road suitable for driving in the rain.

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The i-Road's real trick is in the way it leans over in a turn.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The front wheels shift on their suspensions to allow the i-Road to lean, helping stability.

Toyota i-Road concept
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Taking a turn too fast causes the steering wheel to vibrate.

Toyota i-Road concept
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Toyota also programmed in traction control for driving on slippery surfaces.

Toyota i-Road concept
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The single headlight makes the i-Road a day and night driver.

Toyota i-Road concept
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A USB port in the cabin serves to charge up personal electronics.

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Sonar sensors on the side of the i-Road measure the distance to the ground when it is leaning.

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The i-Road includes a standard J1772 electric-vehicle charging port.

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Charging takes about 3 hours from a 120-volt source.

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With its limited speed and range, the i-Road qualifies as a neighborhood electric vehicle in the US.

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