The Toyota I-Unit; would you drive it?
We've been talking a lot about gas prices recently. That's no surprise considering we're paying almost three times more for gas than we were six years ago. The problems of oil refinery shortages, devaluation of the dollar and higher costs of extracting oil will not go away. So, what do we do?
Well, a few years ago Toyota launched something called the I-Unit at an Expo 2005 in Japan. At the time, I'm sure it was considered about as silly an idea as the Segway. But not any more. After all, most of us drive alone most of the time. We're always complaining about gas prices. We hate wasting money (especially if "we" are readers of this site). So, is the I-Unit really such a silly idea?
Personal Mobility - a concept, or impending reality?
The I-Unit is a cross between a motorcycle and an open-wheeled racer. Based on a leaf design, it uses some state-of-the-art technology to morph from an upright shape at low-speed to a lower, sleeker shape at top-speed (although I've searched everywhere and cannot find out what these speeds actually are). Here's a video that explains a little more...
One of the most impressive features of the I-Unit, other than saving money, space and energy, is the built-in safety. I-Units can communicate with each other, and have accident-avoidance capability. Meaning however drunk or out of control one driver is, he can't pile into another I-Unit driver.
So, the big question still remains. Would you drive it? I aimed that question at myself and unfortunately, I said no...for now. Until I can be sure that it's safe on the road against a huge SUV, or significantly better with gas mileage without compromising speed, then I'd have to wait. At least until more folks had adopted them and they were a more common feature on the roadways.
I will be watching Toyota's I-Unit closely. It's been two years since the launch of the concept vehicle at EXPO 2005, and I'm sure these cars are more in need in the big cities than ever before. It looks like all those funky, tiny cars in futuristic movies weren't so far from the mark after all.
Photo by Kamome