There just must be ways to instill greater freedom and choice in urban mobility…
As our Test Drive Pilots boarded the i-Road to cruise around the big city streets, experiencing parking and battery charging far different from ordinary cars and coping with a rich range of motoring situations, what types of changes occurred in their perspectives and awareness?
In this report, from among the Test Drive Pilots taking part in Phase 3 of the project, we interviewed Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Nakajima about their impressions of taking their canine sidekicks out on the road with them.
Both gentlemen took the time to candidly share the sensations and opinions that came to mind during the month-long test drive period.
Chatting at a “pet-friendly” outdoor sidewalk cafe. From the left, Mr. Nakajima and his miniature dachshund “Marron”; and Mr. Miyamoto and his cairn terrier “Filly.”
Mobilizing the i-Road to Share New Experiences with Pets
Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Nakajima are two avid dog lovers who enjoy taking their pets along for drives. Both stuck to this practice during their stints as Phase 3 i-Road Test Drive Pilots as well, putting their dear pets in the backseat for spins around town in this unique new concept car. For these Pilots, who described their dogs as “dear family members,” spending as much time as possible with these precious partners is a perfectly natural part of everyday life. With the i-Road suddenly emerging to play a focal role in their routines, these devoted dog owners said that the car definitely added a new dimension to their regular activities.
Comments from Mr. Miyamoto: “During the i-Road test drive period, Filly and I ventured out together to various different destinations. One obvious example was the dog run facility at Komazawa Park, about five kilometers from our home. While making that trip by power-assisted bicycle is a bit of a strain, I also figured going to all the trouble of driving there by my regular car was also too much. As a result, I ended up rarely taking Filly for exercise there at all. Having the i-Road really made it a snap to shoot over to the park and the run – a great deal for both of us!”
Mr. Nakajima: “I took Marron to my regular beauty salon. The beauticians there had always encouraged me to bring my dog along, and I had really wanted to take them up on that offer. But with the salon located in a spot inconvenient for regular parking, I never got around it. The i-Road changed that overnight. It became possible to park in niche spaces only large enough to hold motorcycles, and I was able to take Marron along for the very first time.”
For both Mr. Miyamoto and Mr. Nakajima, motoring around in the i-Road made it far easier to bring their dogs along on brief jaunts to locations where they had been reluctant to park before. That, they reported, definitely enhanced the sense of freedom and choice in their lifestyle patterns.
Mr. Miyamoto told us he has been around dogs for as long as he can remember. Now working out of his home, he has reportedly shared the last 12 years of his life with Filly – from arising in the morning to hitting the sack each night. He added that he always takes Filly along on overnight trips as well.
What did the Dogs Feel about the i-Road?
Both these pet owners thought nothing of taking their dogs out on drives in the i-Road. The question remains, however, of how the pooches themselves found those rides. Not to worry – our Test Pilots reported that their pets found the experience “great fun.”
Mr. Miyamoto: “When the i-Road was delivered to my home, I was worried that Filly might be scared or intimidated by such an unknown machine. Such worries turned out to be totally groundless, with Filly burning with curiosity about the new arrival. We ended up taking frequent rides together in the i-Road throughout the test drive period. Even when going out for walks around the neighborhood, Filly would pull me over toward the car (thinking we were taking off for another spin). When riding in the passenger-side or backseat of a regular car, Filly has been prone to slip sideways due to the centrifugal force going around curves. The i-Road made it easier for her to lean to one side or the other, enabling Filly to remain sitting up without sliding about. Based on that, I’d say tooling around in the i-Road is pretty comfortable for dogs too!”
Mr. Nakajima: “The i-Road definitely delivers a sustained sense of stability on the road. For dogs, that may very well give them the gratifying sensation of sprinting along with no need to actually run on their own legs!”
Mr. Miyamoto: “It is true that the outstanding performance of today’s cars ensures quiet ride with little vibration and shaking out on the road. For that matter, closing the windows and switching on the air-conditioner produces an atmosphere pretty much the same as being at home indoors. Compared to that, the i-Road impressed me with its ability to convey the essential fun and excitement of really driving a motor vehicle.”
If these comments are any indication, taking the i-Road out on the road adds an enjoyable new accent to everyday lifestyle routines for canines as well!
Mr. Nakajima mentioned that he also used his i-Road for commuting.
After coming home from work, having the i-Road on hand also reportedly increased the occasions that he took Marron along on outings to cafes or hamburger shops.
A Little Extra Effort for Dog-Friendlier Space
What’s more, these two Test Pilots also came up with ideas about how to make the i-Road cabin appointments even more enjoyable and friendly for canines onboard.
Mr. Miyamoto: “At first, I put Filly on the rear luggage rack. But she preferred to get down on the floor to gaze outside through the clear window at the bottom of the door. Seeing that, I put some cushions on the rack to raise the height of her sitting position. That enabled her to gaze outside the window at the same eye level as the driver.”
Mr. Nakajima: “I did much the same thing, raising Marron’s seat by laying a blanket on the luggage rack. That made it possible for him to glimpse over to the driver’s seat as well, which was excellent because I could always check out his expression and see how he was doing.”
Mr. Miyamoto: “Raising your pet’s seating position would also be nice because you could then open the window and allow them to be refreshed by the incoming breeze. Up to now, Filly has also seemed to enjoy riding in the carrying case on my power-assisted bicycle. Based on that, I would imagine that motoring around in the i-Road would put her and other dogs in much the same enjoyable state of mind.”
With both of these dog-lover Test Pilots concerned about making their time on the road more enjoyable for their pets, they seem to have come up with the same basic idea largely by chance. Another key concern for such drivers appears to be the degree to which they can effectively narrow the sense of distance between themselves (in the driver’s seat) and their dogs (in the rear or elsewhere).
Both men seemed quite delighted with the i-Road: “This is a cute little car that I’d really like to always have by my side” (Mr. Miyamoto). “It made both commuting and outings with Marron more hassle-free and pleasant” (Mr. Nakajima).
How About a “Little Something Extra” to Make Dog Outings Even More Fun and Trouble-Free?
Going a step further, these two Pilots, who have typically taken their dogs along on a rich range of errands and outings, kindly proposed possible “tools” for rendering such experiences even more fun and convenient.
Mr. Nakajima: “It would nice to have a hook somewhere in the cabin to attach the lead, for use when making stops along the way and preparing to take your dog out of the car.”
Mr. Miyamoto: “I agree, a hook somewhere for the leash handle would be nice. Besides that, I also thought that a soft carrying case would come in handy. You could use it to have your dog sit up higher on the luggage rack, and then take it outside in the case without worrying about the leash or any other extra work.”
The drivers concurred that the i-Road made it far easier to take their dogs along to places where such outings have proved tough in the past. In that and other ways, the i-Road clearly added new scenes to their dog-friendly lifestyles, leading to more fun and discoveries for the Test Pilots and their adored pets alike.
“The i-ROAD definitely aroused the desire to take my dog along to more and more destinations!”
Behind such comments by both these dog lovers was the apparent success of the i-Road in triggering numerous hints for new ways to savor life more fully with their pets.
The i-ROAD Test Drive Pilot recruiting continues. We heartily encourage anyone interested in the Open Road Project to join in this innovative new quest for mobility!
Test Drive Pilot Recruitment Continues
For your information, the recruiting of Test Drive Pilots will be continued through the summer of 2016, spanning eight separate phases in all.
During this period as well, Pilot applications may be made at the “Test Drive Pilot” website.
Combining the knowledge and impressions of Toyota as the manufacturer and consumers as the drivers, the mission is being sustained and enhanced to amass a new collective wisdom.
Please consider joining this exciting new project – an innovative endeavor sourced from the personal experiences of each individual participant.
・“Test Drive Pilots Impression Talk” Back issues
“Test Drive Pilot Impression Talk 01” (Phase 1: Mr. Tashiro)
“Test Drive Pilot Impression Talk 02” (Phase 1: Mr. Hashimoto)
“Test Drive Pilot Impression Talk 03” (Phase 2: Mr. Yamane)
INTERVIEW BY Keita Fukasawa (contributor)
TEXT BY Yoko Sueyoshi (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Eiji Fukasaku
ISSUED ： 7 December 2015