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Auto blogMon, 04 Mar 2013 15:45:00 EST
According to Toyota, the "i-ROAD takes the company closer to its goal of creating the ultimate range of eco cars." As you're surely aware, that range of eco cars includes the enormously successful Prius family, but this new machine is nothing like the hybrid hatchback. And it's not even a car - Toyota calls the i-ROAD a Personal Mobility Vehicle.
Toyota's i-ROAD Concept, which debuts at this week's Geneva Motor Show, is adorned with just three wheels, meaning it's just as much a motorcycle as it is a car, and the driver and passenger sit in tandem style instead of side-by-side. This arrangement allows for a very thin 850mm width, which is about the same as a large motorcycle. Because the cockpit is enclosed, the occupants don't need helmets, nor are they open to the elements outside.
Also like a traditional two-wheeler, the i-ROAD tilts through the turns and when driving on uneven surfaces. Toyota says its computer-controlled Active Lean technology automatically balances the vehicle with no input from the driver.
We happen to like the Toyota GT86 - and, it of course goes without saying that the same applies to the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S, as well - just the way it is. Yes, that includes the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine and its 200 horsepower at 7,000 rpm.
That said, a little extra power never hurt anybody, right?
The most obvious way to add some punch to the GT86 would be with a turbocharger, and that has indeed long been rumored for an STI version of the BRZ. Will Toyota follow suit? According to Top Gear, the answer is no. Says GT86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, "I think 300bhp with a turbo and 200g/km of CO2 would be tasteless in this day and age. And a turbo would mean the loss of the GT86's uniqueness." Perhaps a bit harsh, but there you go.
A Toyota executive has said that the automaker's hybrid Prius model may not reach its 2013 goal of selling 250,000 units in the US marketplace. Bill Fay, group vice president for Toyota's US sales, told Reuters, "The 240,000 to 250,000 range is kind of where we're settling our sights for the Prius family."
The first-generation Prius, a five-passenger model, was introduced to the States in 2001 (its arrival made it the second mass-produced hybrid, after the two-seat Honda Insight). The second-generation model arrived in 2004, followed by the current third-generation design that arrived for the 2010 model year. The automaker has subsequently added the Prius V, a hatchback wagon (shown above) and the Prius C, a subcompact hatchback. As of March, 2013, cumulative worldwide sales of the Prius had reached 3.67 million units.
Last year, Toyota sold 236,659 Prius models in the US. However, sales of the model have fallen 5.1 percent in the first six months of 2013. In response, the automaker has boosted its marketing for the model, and the promotions are expected to continue through at least July.