Not quite a car, not quite a motorcycle, the Toyota i-Road is a three-wheeled electric vehicle designed just for urbanites. Small, sleek and ultra slim, on paper the i-Road seems like the perfect solution to Tokyo’s traffic jams and woefully limited – not to mention expensive – parking.

But what’s it like to actually drive one of these things? Our Japanese team headed out to try an i-Road for themselves. Check out their video after the jump!

“It’s just like skiing” claims the i-Road’s official website while presenting an image of the cute little EV leaning precariously to one side, “the more you drive the better it gets!”

Skiing may well be fun (truth be told, I’m more of a snowboarder, and a poor one at that), but when simply trying to get from A to B during rush hour in Tokyo, I doubt very much that many people would choose to add an element of risk to the equation. Even so, Toyota’s i-Road is an undeniably enticing little contraption. With its quirky, futuristic design, this ultra-compact (seriously – it’s just over 87cm/2’10” wide, and 200cm/6’7″ long) vehicle just begs to be sat in; sturdy enough to convey an image of safety while also exuding a playfulness that would convince even less experienced drivers that piloting one couldn’t possibly be all that hard.


Renting an i-Road in Tokyo isn’t quite as simple as popping a few coins into a machine and pootling off down the street, but it is far less hassle than renting a regular car. Wannabe i-Roaders are first required to register with Times, the parking lot and car-sharing operator working with Toyota to showcase the new electric vehicles, and then progress to “stage 2” membership, which is as simple renting a certain number of vehicles from the company (and returning them in one piece) and taking a simple online road safety test. With enough points accrued to become a stage-2 member, those wishing to rent an i-Road are, after being given a short, one-off lesson on operating the vehicle safely, free to take an i-Road out whenever they please.

Which is exactly what our reporters did.

▼ Come on, who wouldn’t want to take one of these out for a spin??


▼ Learning the ropes



▼ Out into the big, wide world!


▼ Dropping your i-Road off is easy.

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What with the usual Tokyo traffic to contend with, it took our i-Roading duo around 20 minutes to travel from Hibiya to Asakusa (roughly 8km/4 miles). Hardly the speediest journey ever, but with i-Road use clocking in at just 412 yen (US$3.46) for every fifteen minutes of drive time, this meant that their entire trip cost them less than what it would just to take a seat in the back of a taxi.

Of course, i-Road is not without its drawbacks (there’s currently no built-in sat-nav, they can’t be taken on the city’s overhead highways, and – although two-seater models do exist in Europe – can currently only carry one person at a time) but our reporters said that driving the little cars was a lot of fun and that the vehicles could well prove to be a viable alternative to taking taxis in the near future, especially considering that popular tourist sites like Odaiba, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Dome have their very own pick-up/drop-off locations.

With a handful of tweaks and additions, these little buggies could one day be a common sight in Japan’s capital city, or indeed all around the world. And, thanks to i-Road’s zero-carbon emissions, we have a feeling that the world itself would be perfectly okay with that.

Photos © RocketNews24