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Look out Smart car – something even greener has come to town.

US engineering expertise merges with Basque manufacturing techniques in the launch of the Hiroko (Basque for “urban”), a small car that gets even smaller. Less than 100 inches long and electric-battery powered, it’s been called the CityCar by its creators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Up to two people can enter and exit the car by lifting up the glass windshield — essentially the whole front of the car — and the driver steers with a joystick. The wheels turn a full 360 degrees, so no parking space is out of reach, and the electric-powered vehicle can be folded (with the back of the car slipping under the front), so three can fit in the space of one full-sized car. The first uses of the Hiroko will be for car sharing programmes in cities around the world. The cars are also linked by a central network, so drivers can find out if one is close to their location.

Production of 20 cars and a pilot programme will begin next year in Spain’s Basque country near Bilbao, and the first cars are set to roll down the road in spring of 2013. Barcelona, Berlin and Malmo, Sweden, have already stated their interest and MIT is looking at deploying the cars in Hong Kong and San Francisco.

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