"i-ROAD Touring" Reports (Phase 7 Test Drive Pilot Version)

Test Drive Pilots

Our Phase 7 batch of Test Drive Pilots took part in their month-long stint of "Life with the i-ROAD,"
an undertaking that commenced hand in hand with the arrival of the spring season in Tokyo.
Prompted by the suggestion from one of the Pilots, meanwhile, who voiced the desire for everyone to get out touring together in their i-ROADs,
such a plan was in fact organized and implemented for this group.
In that way, more extensive interaction between the Pilots emerged thanks to their shared i-ROAD experiences driving around Tokyo.
In this installment, we report on this touring – yet another new experiment in the ongoing saga of the i-ROAD mobility vehicle.
Our Phase 7 batch of Test Drive Pilots took part in their month-long stint of "Life with the i-ROAD," an undertaking that commenced hand in hand with the arrival of the spring season in Tokyo. Prompted by the suggestion from one of the Pilots, meanwhile, who voiced the desire for everyone to get out touring together in their i-ROADs, such a plan was in fact organized and implemented for this group. In that way, more extensive interaction between the Pilots emerged thanks to their shared i-ROAD experiences driving around Tokyo. In this installment, we report on this touring – yet another new experiment in the ongoing saga of the i-ROAD mobility vehicle.

The reactions to this idea were upbeat, with a steady stream of Test Drive Pilots urging the run to take place.

These Pilots, who up to that point had largely exchanged reports on their "Lives with the i-ROAD" one-on-one, gathered under the same roof to plan the touring. It was decided that the drive would take place on April 29, the final day of the test drive period.
Gathering at a certain location near Harajuku Station, where the touring was set to commence, were the Phase 7 Pilots and some of their family members as well.
Clearly, all of them were raring to go. Waiting for the starting signal, they exchanged notes on their experiences with the i-ROAD up to then, snapped commemorative photos and otherwise pleasantly passed the time.

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At last, the time to hit the road arrived.

Bidding farewell to well wishers with calls of "See you in a bit," the row of five colorful i-ROAD cars took to the road, one after another.

The time was early afternoon, on a national holiday, with the cars cruising down bustling Meijidori Street on their way to Shibuya. Manifesting the inherent strengths of the i-ROAD, the units moved effortlessly along the narrow road bordering the local train line, heading for the trendy Daikanyama quarter. Seeing the Pilots fluidly negotiate hairpin turns and other challenges without a second thought, the staffers of the project Secretariat could also barely contain their joy and admiration.

 

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Descending Dogenzaka Hill, richly bathed in the sparkling green colors of the new early summer leaves, the caravan emerged from the lively scene around the "scramble" intersection in Shibuya renowned for its diagonal crosswalks. With that, they geared up for the final stretch to the goal line back in Harajuku. Plenty of people along the way instinctively raised their cameras to capture images of the colorful i-ROAD fleet. Waiting for the traffic lights to change, some of the Pilots also took a few moments to chat with passersby, shoot commemorative photos or otherwise kick back.

 

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The touring escapade sped by in no time at all. Standing around their trusty cars afterwards, the Pilots shared the highlights and impressions of the day’s outing. In the midst of this buoyant and happy-go-lucky atmosphere, the touring run for our Phase 7 Test Drive Pilots came to a close.

 

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"Although it was a bit embarrassing to be photographed so much, it felt pretty good overall. I smiled for the cameras time and time again!"
"I’d like to be able to go on such drives while chatting with the other units. For that matter, I wanted to just keep on driving like that, with everyone out on the road together!"
These were just a couple of the sentiments expressed by the participants at the end of the session.

When all is said and done, this touring brainchild succeed in going one step beyond simply driving home the point of the i-ROAD as a handy means of mobility. It also gave the Pilots a taste of this innovative new vehicle as an effective "communication tool."

With the end of this touring, the Phase 7 test-driving period also came to a close. Realizing that, the expressions on the faces of our Pilots appeared somewhat wistful, if not outright melancholy.

During the month or so that the Pilots spent with these cars, the i-ROAD became far more than a mere means of getting around. It rose to the cherished presence of a genuine road sidekick and trusty companion for all of these drivers.

PHOTOGRAPHS BY Yuta Nishida / Tomoyuki Kato

ISSUED : 24 May 2016