“i-ROAD Touring” Reports (Phase 1 Test Drive Pilot Version)

Test Drive Pilots

For a span of around one full month, the Test Drive Pilots truly relished the full thrust of the “i-ROAD lifestyle.”
To put the final touches on the “Mobility Experience in the City” played out by each of the Pilots in their own unique styles,
a certain experiment was undertaken.
This consisted of a “touring project” initiated by one of the Phase 1 i-ROAD Test Drive Pilots.
Just what did these Pilots garner by taking part in this touring run, and what types of communication were achieved as a result?

“With about two weeks left in the monitor period, here’s a suggestion. How about assembling all the vehicles and Pilots together in a single location before we return our i-ROAD units?”
The catalyst for the plan was this candid idea voiced by one of the Phase 1 Test Drive Pilots.
The response was quick and decisive, with all Pilots clearly eager to give this a try. With that, the scene was set for all of the Test Drive Pilots, who up to then had savored the “i-ROAD lifestyle” on their own, to congregate at the same site for the holding of the first ever i-ROAD touring event.
The date chosen for this occasion was August 1, 2015 – the final day of the test drive period. The meeting location was a cafe in the Gaienmae quarter of Tokyo, with five of the eight Phase 1 Test Drive Pilots able to coordinate their respective schedules to take part.
At 8:30 a.m., under the rays of radiant summer sunlight, the five chic-looking i-ROAD cars assembled in neat row, and then departed from the cafe one after another.
To begin, the Pilots took a spin around the nearby Outer Gardens of Meiji Jingu Shrine. As the route, they drove down the dazzling sunshine filtering through branches along the tree-lined avenue, and then circled the Akasaka Detached Palace. With the full-throated songs of cicadas, stridently exulting in the height of the summer season in their ears as background music, the Pilots reveled in the impressive natural scenery and exhilarating wind at a key core of the Japanese capital.
Next, they motored along National Route 246, one of the main arterial routes serving Tokyo, on their way to the trendy Omotesando district. The colorful sight of these i-ROAD cars as they moved briskly through those urban landscapes, which stand in striking contrast to the greenery in the first section of the drive, clearly piqued the interest and attention of many pedestrians along the way.
Cruising through the Harajuku area, the Pilots arrived at a fashionable street-side cafe bordering Yoyogi Park.
Gazing over at the gallant figures of their trusty i-ROAD cars parked along the curb, the five Phase 1 Test Drive Pilots relaxed as they reflected on the day’s “run” and swapped comments and ideas. In the midst of this happy and upbeat atmosphere, the touring session drew to a harmonious end.
The participants were upbeat in serving up their impressions of the day’s experiences, while kicking back at the cafe.
“At the head of the procession of i-ROADs while waiting for a traffic light to change, it was great to look back over my shoulder at the line of our cars stopped on a curved section behind me.”
“Rather than simply taking a drive in a car, this was far more akin to the sense of cruising along together in a sense of mutual harmony.”
One of the discoveries stemming from this touring run were the possibilities of the i-ROAD as a “communication tool” – effectively delivering experiences definitely difficult to savor if simply motoring solo.
This touring event marked the close of the Phase 1 Test Drive Period. Clearly, the Pilots were sad to arrive at the end of the road, finding it tough to bid farewell to their i-ROADs. Among their sentiments:
“This really makes me feel lonely. While there were certain issues that cropped up in actually operating this type of car, the end result was the fostering of an endearing sense of attachment.”
“After spending so much time learning the ropes of how to use the car, it seems like a real waste to no longer be able to share the knack of driving it, how best to park and other hints and knowledge cultivated during this period with others.”
“I really hope to be able to drive the i-ROAD again – especially after it is enhanced through the comments that myself and the other Pilots have offered up.”
“It will be intriguing to see what the i-ROAD looks like after another year or so!”
As a result of this month-long test drive period, it may very well be true that, for these Pilots, the i-ROAD has exceeded the domain of a mere means of getting around – approaching the presence of being a part of their own bodies.

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.


TEXT BY Keisuke Kagiwada (contributor)

ISSUED : 22 August 2015