Spain Has Unveiled The World’s First ‘Folding’ Smart Car


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Here’s one reason to jump on the ‘green car’ bandwagon, especially if you live in a big city.A group of MIT students, together with a consortium of seven manufacturers in Spain, have created an electric car that not only saves fuel, but also saves space, Deutsch Welle reports.

How does it save space, you ask? By folding vertically into itself, like a stroller.

The car was unveiled at the EU headquarters in Brussels last week by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. It is expected to be on the streets after a 20-car trial in Spain next year.

Part of the CityCar project, it was named ‘Hiriko’, the Basque word for ‘city’ or ‘urban’, and has been touted as the perfect solution to parking problems in Europe’s narrow streets. When folded, it takes up one-third the space of a regular-sized car.

The 6.5-foot, 1100-pound car is powered by two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Its driven by an electric motor at each wheel, which allows it to do O-turns, instead of just U-turns, and move sideways into parking spots.

The wheel also houses the car’s suspension and steering components, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The lack of an engine up front (it’s split between the wheels) means the driver and passenger can exit through the front of the car.

A number of local European governments want to use the Hiriko for car share programs, much like London’s ‘Boris bikes’, the Guardian reports. “It is European social innovation at its best,” Barroso said.

The price (12,500 euros, or $16,000 each) are a great draw, and already, Barcelona, Berlin and Malmö have expressed interest.

But electric cars may not be all they’re cracked up to be. Citing an Environment Ministry survey, Tageszeitung said electric cars will actually worsen climate change at first because of the vast amounts of energy hat will be consumed to create the new vehicles and the infrastructure they need.