KOMPAS.com - Tiny urban car can fold in half and drive sideways, making it ideal for congested cities. European officials have taken the covers off a new electric car that folds in half to fit in to tight parking spots.
The CityCar, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, can also crab sideways, making parallel parking a cinch. The first production prototype of the car - dubbed the Hiriko – was inspected by European Union Commission chief, José Manuel Barroso, and is expected to hit the road in a 20-car trial in Spain next year.
The diminutive car, which weighs less than 500kg, folds up when parked, allowing three or four cars to fit in the average parking space. The car is driven by an electric motor at each wheel, which allows it to spin on its own axis and move sideways into parking spots. The wheel also houses the car’s suspension and steering components. Instead of a U-turn, the Hiriko can do an O-turn.
The lack of an engine or motor up front means the driver and passenger can exit through the front of the car, allowing it to fold in the middle and park nose-to-kerb in a spot that would usually require parallel parking.
The two-seater, which has a 100km range, will be initially trialled in Spain as part of an inner city car sharing scheme. The car’s lithium-ion batteries are placed low in the floor of the car, which frees up passenger and luggage space while keeping the centre of gravity low. Its makers say the car can be recharged either at home, in the office or by parking in special recharging spaces.
And the good news is that the car is feasible for driving on Australian roads. The steering column can be ordered either on the left- or right-hand side. The trial will start in the Spanish city of Bilbao, but others are planned for Boston in the United States and Malmo in Sweden.