French city to trial Toyota’s urban EVs

30 June 2014

i-Road and Coms EVs plus a tram in Grenoble

It’s more than a year since Toyota revealed its three-wheeled i-Road electric vehicle at the 2013 Geneva motor show, but it still looks entirely as if it belongs in the future rather than today. However, YouTube videos of the thing in action, leaning enthusiastically into corners, don’t appear to have been faked, so presumably the i-Road really is a real product.

Citizens of the French city of Grenoble will have the chance to verify that the i-Real exists in tangible time-space-reality by driving it, starting in October this year. Examples of the i-Road will take part in a three-year joined-up infrastructure trial due to take place in the city. The Grenoble metropolitan authority has teamed up with Toyota, French energy company EDF and a car-sharing organisation Citélib to try to formulate the urban infrastructure of the future, with new tram lines, cycle-hire and car sharing, among other options.

Commuters and other travellers will be able to book i-Roads by smartphone during the scheme, for one-way journeys between EV charging points that will be scattered throughout the city.

i-Road and Coms EVs

As well as the i-Road, Toyota will also deploy its “Coms” vehicle – a single seat electric runabout in the mould of Renault’s Twizy, developed by Toyota’s commercial vehicle arm, Toyota Auto Body. Together, i-Road and Coms will make up a fleet of 70 tiny, narrow, short-range vehicles.

Either Toyota option should be slim enough to duck and weave its way through traffic snarls – at 850mm wide the i-Road is almost 30% narrower than a 1,190mm-wide Twizy, closer to the 760mm breadth of a Piaggo MP3 scooter. The Coms, meanwhile, comes in at 1,095mm wide.

Both i-Road and Coms are battery powered, offering a range of about 50km (31 miles) at speeds up to 60km/h (37mph). The official range of a Twizy, for comparison, is 100km (62 miles) while speed tops out at 80km/h (50mph).

Judging from videos, the sharply curtailed range and speed of the i-Road don’t mean equally curtailed levels of fun. The i-Road looks an absolute hoot.

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