Step aside, Smart cars!
Say hello to the Hiriko, the real-life result of the MIT CityCar prototype launched this week in Spain. Not only is the electric two-seater a mere 100 inches long (about the size of a Smart), it actually folds up into itself so that when parked, it is only 60 inches long. Since that is the width of a typical car, three of these tiny urban EVs could conceivably fit into a parking spot (see the video below for a demonstration).
If that weren't enough on crowded city streets, the car's robotic wheels have the ability to tilt, such that the car can spin around its own center (see the video for an animated demo).
Once parked, the driver and passenger exit the vehicle through the front of the car - via a retractable windshield that lifts up, similar to a garage door.
Hiriko means "urban car" in Basque - a fitting name considering its only goes as fast as city speed limits and gets a range of 75 miles per charge. The low maximum speed is probably a good thing: considering how close passengers are to the windshield, it's unlikely to provide significant protection in the event of a high-speed crash.
The Hiriko, conceived by the MIT Media Lab and developed by seven Basque design firms, integrates electric motors, steering, and brakes in the wheels, while systems are managed digitally through a drive-by-wire system.
The EV was presented on Tuesday to the European Commission at the launch of the Hiriko Driving Mobility project. Spain intends to lease the vehicles it produces out to city dwellers through a car sharing system similar to ZipCar. The Hiriko will also be sold for around $16,350, according to reports.