Is Toyota’s Mini EV the Future of Urban Transportation?

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Toyota i-Road

Toyota i-Road

In a place known as Toyota (NYSE:TM) City, Japan, the world’s leading automaker is ramping up its investment in urban transportation systems. Toyota announced plans to increase the number of vehicles in its ride-sharing transport collective while noting it will produce the innovative electric vehicle known as the i-Road, a one-seat mini car that will enter the system in early 2014. The concept could translate to many U.S. cities.

The i-Road debuted as a concept car in international auto shows, but is getting its closeup at a new tech convention in Chiba City. Described by Toyota as “offering the convenience of a motorcycle” and a “new type of driving pleasure” in a miniature format, the i-Road will become one of the vehicles users can share as a part of the collective experiment in space-saving, energy-efficient transportation options.

While the diminutive stature of the i-Road suggests an unprecedented lightness for a vehicle of any type, the weight of 661 pounds is extraordinary. The three-wheel, one-seat mini will travel approximately 31 miles on a full charge, with top speeds at around 27 mph. To fill the need for regular charging, Toyota is expanding the number of stations where users can pick up the vehicles and expanding its fee-based rental system.

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