Toyota i-Road: a third way?

Toyota's new electric commuter unveiled

TOYOTA has unveiled its three-wheeler, battery-powered 'i-Road' at the Geneva Motor Show.

The electric three-wheeler employs 'active lean' technology, which will look familiar to Piaggio MP3 riders. The i-Road is aimed squarely at the urban commuter looking for the advantages of a motorcycle with none of the disadvantages - quite a claim. The i-Road is just 85cm wide, not much more than a conventional scooter or bike which should allow the driver to move through traffic. The enclosed body allows the driver to travel without a helmet and offers car-comparable weather protection. 

Claimed battery range is just 30 miles per charge, meaning anything more than a commute really would be a tall order. A full recharge from a conventional power supply takes three hours. The i-Road's top speed is 28mph, but the announced 30-mile range is only achievable if the average is kept down to a mere 18mph. 

Production has not yet begun so details and prices are not forthcoming - but early signs are that Toyota wants to slip the i-Road into the market somewhere between the comparable four-wheeler Renault Twizy and 'conventional' electric bikes like the Zero S.

Will we see more of this sort of vehicle in the near future? Or this a developmental cul-de-sac, like the ill-fated Reliant Robin or unsuccessful BMW C1? And most importantly, can the world handle yet another product named 'i-Something'?

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