Toyota puts its three-wheel i-Road car on public streets

When Toyota revealed the i-Road electric three-wheeler at the Geneva Auto Show in March, the reaction was to note that the world's largest automaker was tinkering with cars that leaned like Webble Wobbles and move on. Yet Toyota has bigger plans for the i-Road — namely that it will build a handful for driving on public roads.

The i-Road won't just pop up at the corner Toyota dealership. Toyota says it will add the i-Road to an experimental electric car-sharing fleet it runs in Japan named Ha:Mo, which currently offers electric-assisted bicycles and a mini EV smaller than a Smart ForTwo. The idea works much like the urban bikeshare systems in this country; borrow a car, drive between bus stops and drop it off.

The i-Road in theory can carry more than one person, although it appears useful mostly as a hauler for something that won't fit on a bicycle, or a way to stay out of the rain and look like a commuter from the 22nd century. Toyota didn't say just how many i-Roads it would put into its test fleet, and there's no commitment to build them in large numbers. But clearly automakers see a need in the not-too-distant future for a vehicle with more than two wheels that's powered by more than pedals.