Toyota has unveiled the i-TRIL Concept at the Geneva motor show, a concept designed to show that future electric vehicles can be ‘fun to drive as well as being environmentally friendly’ as well as be a viable alternative to city cars, other electric vehicles, public transport and motorcycles.
Toyota says its newest vision for the future is designed for urban dwellers who travel extensively – often in stop-start traffic – to shop, visit restaurants, socialise and take children to school.
At just three metres long, 1,510mm high and featuring 1,200mm front and 600mm rear tracks, the compact i-TRIL offers seating for three adults in a one-plus-two layout. It is driven by electric-motor power and weighs just 600kg with Toyota aiming at a range of more than 200km between charges.
Developed by Toyota Motor Europe in collaboration with the company’s ED2 design studio in France, the i-TRIL Concept is capable of operating fully autonomously, but has been ‘specifically conceived to provide such driving pleasure that owners will wish to drive themselves most of the time’.
The i-TRIL showcases numerous innovative aspects of Toyota’s research including “active lean” technology that allows the vehicle body and front tyres to lean into a corner while the motorised rear tyres remain perpendicular to the road at all times.
Butterfly-opening doors are hinged on the sloping windscreen pillars for maximum ease of access, even for rear-seat passengers, while requiring no more opening room than conventional doors. When the cabin doors are opened, they also remove a section of floor to narrow the vehicle’s footprint and make stepping out simpler. The front seats can also be swivelled by up to 20 degrees for easier entry and exit.
Steering, acceleration and braking are carried out by drive-by-wire control nodes, similar to electronic game controllers. During autonomous driving, the control nodes automatically retract into the driving module, which itself moves forward and is stowed within the dashboard to allow the driver maximum freedom of movement.
There are no other controls or switchgear, and no driver’s instrument binnacle. In manual driving mode, a simple head-up display projects all necessary information.
A further feature of the autonomous driving mode, the instrument panel extremities on the left or right automatically illuminate whenever the i-TRIL is about to enter a corner, letting all occupants know which way the cabin is about to lean.
A Human Machine Interface focuses on voice activation technology, communicating with the vehicle’s artificial intelligence for the control of multimedia and infotainment systems.
Another innovation is that the front seat headrest is fixed to the roof of the vehicle, and pivots down into position when the i-TRIL is switched on.
The interior has been designed to avoid an overtly automotive feel with Alcantara front-seat trim, fabric rear-seat upholstery and a wooden floor finish – all made from recycled materials.
The tread pattern of the Goodyear 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tyres has been cut to match the ribbed design of the interior trim.