Toyota was the first, and arguably, the only car company who have managed to sell a hybrid that is popular. Their Prius was ground breaking and actually bought and used by real people.
It is hard to believe the Prius was actually launched 20 years ago. It had a slow start; the concept was new and the public were put off by the purchase cost because they did not appreciate the value of life time fuel savings. In addition charging points were something of a novelty. Now new buildings and car parks all have multiple charging bays and people recognise the fuel and tax savings electric or hybrid cars provide.
Now Toyota have released their latest innovation – the I-road. Toyota hopes to appeal to commuters by combining the convenience of a motorbike with the comfort and stability of a car for short-distance city driving. The car can recharge fully in 3 hours and travel up to 50km between charges. Due to the passenger seat being positioned behind the driver the I-road is only 87cm wide so four of them can fit into a conventional parking space. It has a revolutionary self adjusting tilt which gives it a ski-like motion allowing it to maneuver bumps and obstacles.
The i-Road looks and sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi film – in a good way! It is funky when stationery and beautifully fluid in motion. The journalists that have tested it so far are excited by it. It’s both safe and fun to drive. The car is not for sale at the moment but it is no longer just a concept. It is being trialed in two real cities at the moment. The most comprehensive scheme is the Grenoble CITÉ LIB HA:MO partnership in which a fleet of I-Road cars are being used in a city wide car-sharing scheme to link people up to the extensive public transport system.