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.