Toyota Debuts Concept-i Series of Electric 'Mobility Solutions'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota debuts concept i series of electric mobility solutions

While we enjoy a concept car that isn’t set so far into the hypothetical future that it’s almost impossible to imagine the world in which it could exist, it’s also fun to see less-than-realistic designs emerge in a vehicle that is pure science fiction. Pursuing the latter mindset, Toyota has decided to expand upon the original Concept-i car with an entire series of “mobility vehicles” — each intended to help deliver a tomorrow where you are no longer required to walk.

Now part of a full lineup of experimental vehicles, Toyota views the Concept i-Ride and Concept i-Walk as supplementary modes of transportation for last January’s original four-seat concept. That vehicle debuted as more of a robotic friend than an traditional automobile. Toyota even went so far as to propose an artificial intelligence system that allowed the i-car to build a relationship with the driver that “feels meaningful and human.”

The smaller units lack the Concept-i’s personality but are absolutely in step with its unapologetically futuristic styling. The theory, as Toyota sees it, is to save the four-seater’s superior 300-km range for family outings and long-range commuting. During the trip, the vehicle suggests new routes, places to stop, and constantly monitors your nonverbal cues so that it can anticipate how best to serve you (be it by using predictive reasoning to prevent a crash or facial recognition to know when it’s time to create a more relaxing environment in the cabin).

Meanwhile, drivers can use their svelte i-Ride two-seater for quicker trips into the city — either as the vehicle’s primary owner or someone renting it by the hour. Essentially a half-scale version of the i-Concept, the i-Ride’s 100-150 km range is intended for lighter duty and urban commutes. While it shares much of its design with the larger model, Toyota sees it as filling an entirely different role — and even attempting to make it handicap accessible by replacing the steering wheel and pedals with twin joysticks. It also has autonomous capabilities that allow for easy parking and low-speed maneuvers requiring precision. There’s even a compartment in the back for a wheelchair or, if you prefer, Toyota i-Walk.

However, the i-Walk is the most difficult portion of the trio to make a genuine case for. It’s reminiscent of Ford’s Carr-E, which was a 25-pound mobility disk intended to take you and your personal belongings on the last leg of a journey. While a fun concept, the practical applications for Carr-E seemed comically limited. It’s too heavy to hoist in and out of your car on a regular basis and its standing design required occupants to remain upright as it cruised slowly along the pavement.

By comparison, the i-Walk appears to be about as useful as a Segway and serves a very similar function. Designed with some amount of ergonomics in mind, Toyota claims the electrified trike can be used by anyone wanting to enjoy a 10-20 km walking tour without straining their legs.

It’s highly reminiscent of Toyota’s i-Real motorized wheelchair, albeit pared down substantially. Toyota planned to place the i-Real on sale in 2010 but nothing ever came of it, which was unfortunate considering how much promise it held for those without the ability to walk. We expect a similar fate for the rest of the Concept-i Series.

They’re certainly interesting ideas but the i-Walk doesn’t offer anything new, the i-Ride is too small to ever enter into production, and the i-Concept promises features no automaker could possibly deliver on. That said, it is nice to see Toyota experimenting and playing outside the box. Even if we don’t see these vehicles outside of automotive exhibitions, maybe the automaker can find a way to roll the key attributes into more practical production models someday.

Still, if you want to enjoy the future fantasy now, the trio will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show starting October 25th.

[Images: Toyota Motor Corp.]

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  • Land Ark Land Ark on Oct 17, 2017

    This is the first time I've realized that self-driving cars don't need headlights. They just need lights to be seen. Of course, using lights on your car to be seen seems to be a foreign concept to a lot of Toyota drivers.

  • Turf3 Turf3 on Oct 17, 2017

    This kind of stuff is like architects' "concept" drawings for 200 story apartment blocks and the like. I have never been able to understand the fascination of adults with this kind of thing; I got over it once I had filled my algebra notebook with these kinds of concept cars in 10th grade. Of course, a Brompton folding bicycle does much of what is being promoted here, for a lot less money; but there are no computers involved, so it must be "old school" and "Luddite". Anyway, these kinds of concepts are cheap entertainment in the same way as superhero movies, but I am amused by posters who argue over this or that detail. It's like complaining about a violation of the laws of physics in a Superman movie - "wait, you're complaining about inaccuracy in a movie about a BULLETPROOF GUY WHO FLIES?"

    • Blackcloud_9 Blackcloud_9 on Oct 17, 2017

      I know what you mean. I got called out for complaining about how unrealistic it was that 9-year old Anikan Skywalker could fly a space ship and kill a bunch of bad guys in Star Wars: A Phantom Menace. I mean, come on! It just wouldn't happen!

  • 28-Cars-Later "Honda and Acura haven’t yet released an EV in the United States"Ok..."The 2024 ZDX rides on GM’s Ultium Platform and will feature Google built-in services. "Waht?
  • Theflyersfan I was just at the Mazda dealer getting one of the free scheduled maintenances taken care of and saw a couple of these on the lot (inventory...I know!!! No Mazda3s or MX-5s, but had some CX-5s and CX-50s). They are even nicer in person - the paint especially stands out. Plus the terracotta interior treatment isn't something done by Honda, Toyota, or Nissan so you can get something different. The slight price hike is worth it and it's worth it just to have something that isn't white, black, or a million shades of gray. Or get the Soul Red. You can never go wrong with that color. I just with the terracotta interior was offered with that.
  • VoGhost This new SLX looks to be quite a trooper.
  • Wolfwagen I would rather have an annual inspection that may catch something early or at least the driver can be informed of an impending issue. Government vs private is another issue and unscrupulous mechanics is another.On a slightly different topic is the inspection of salvage or rebuilt cars. In NYS it is strictly to ensure that stolen parts were not used to rebuild the vehicle. I would rather see an inspection to ensure that the vehicle has been properly put back together.
  • PeterPuck For years, Ford has simply reworked existing designs originating from Europe and Japanese manufacturers, not being capable of designing a decent car in the USA.What’s the last clean sheet design from the USA? The 1986 Taurus?And they still can’t manage to get things right.why is this? Are they putting all of the competent engineers and designers on the F150? Is woke diversification affecting them, as some rumours suggest? Are they rewarding incompetence?