Hiriko means urban car in Basque. And researchers hope that these tiny electric cars will be used in cities all over the world.
MIT's media lab developed the 2 passenger electric vehicles for ride shares in urban landscapes. Riders can pick up a car from one Hiriko station and drop it off at another, similar to the bike share programs in cities all over the world.
And the great thing about these cars is that they take up less space than normal automobiles, which makes so much sense in cities. Each car measures 100 inches long on the road, 46 inches less than a 2-door Mini Cooper. And when they are parked, the cars scrunch up to a mere 60 inches. So three Hirikos can fit into a normal-sized parking space.
Pacific Standard reports:
"The car's miniature size, light weight, and ability to fold are achieved by eliminating the bulky mechanical linkages conventional cars use for acceleration, braking, and steering. In their place, "by-wire" technology transmits information electronically to the four wheels from the driver, who manipulates a yoke much like an airplane pilot does. The wheels are incorporated into identical modules along with electric motors for propulsion. They also control steering and braking. Since all four swivel, the car can pivot on its own axis. Entirely battery powered, it can travel 70 miles per charge."
The Hiriko car was built solely for urban drivers and can reach 31 mph at top speed. The car runs on a lithium-ion battery and has a driving range of 75 miles.
Pacific Standard says that a production run will take place next year in Northern Spain. "But it may be several years before they see wide use. Instead they will be stationed in fleets, as complements to city transit systems. Likely first locations include Barcelona, Berlin, Malm, Hong Kong, and San Francisco."