We've seen urban cars with a single, windshield-mounted door and we've seen a baby stroller that can fold itself, but this is the first time we've seen the two combined. It's called the Hiriko (Basque for "urban"), and a full-sized prototype of the folding electric car was unveiled in front of the European Union Commission chief in Brussels yesterday. The tiny vehicle isn't just a Smart car: it can fold to minimize the amount of space it takes, and three of the vehicles can fit in a typical parking spot once folded.
Making a car that can fold itself isn't as simple as adding some hinges; the Hiriko has a single, upward-swinging windshield instead of doors and each of the Hiriko's four wheels contain a drive motor, steering, braking, and suspension, leaving the inside of the car uncluttered and free to be collapsed. The wheels also give the car a zero-point turning radius (meaning it can spin in place) and enough speed to drive safely on city streets. It's said that the Hiriko will have a 100 kilometer (about 60 mile) range, and it's target price for individuals is €12,500 (about $16,355).
The Hiriko is the commercial version of MIT Media Lab's CityCar, and the model demonstrated in Brussels represents the first full-sized prototype. Although it's possible that the vehicle will be sold to individuals, it's planned for shared-use projects like the bicycle sharing programs that are popular in many European cities. If you can't wait to see the Hiriko in person, you're probably going to have to head to Vitoria Gasteiz near Bilbao, Spain, where a 20-unit pilot program is scheduled to start up next year. If you can't make it there, you'll be glad to hear that San Francisco, Berlin, Barcelona, Malmö, and Hong Kong have shown interest in the program as well.
Check out a full gallery of photos at the National Post of the Hiriko prototype's unveil, and see below for an MIT clip on the CityCar and a Spanish video from the event in Brussels.