The HIRIKO Project is a tiny 2 seat car powered by an electric engine and capable of folding for storage/parking. The car which was originally conceived by researchers in the MIT-Media lab is now in final development by a European group which plan to start marketing it next year for around $16,000.
In 2010 a Consortium of 7 companies joined forces in Europe to create the first ever practical commercial Collapsible electric Citycar – the HIRIKO (Basque word for ‘urban’). One of the main target markets for the car is going to be urban car-sharing programs – a similar concept to bicycle sharing programs which are now thriving in many cities worldwide.
The HIRIKO has the capability to shrink from about 8 foot when open and ready to drive to merly five feet when parked (which basically means that you can squeeze 3 HIRIKO for each conventional car parking space!). Another cool feature of the HIRIKO – its wheels allows it to move sideways – making parking – a snap. The steering is also unconventional – it actually resembles that of an airplane more than the regular wheel and pedals of a regular car. Instead if you want to move forward you push a stick forward, pull it back and the car will slow down.
HIRIKO will be capable of driving about 75 miles between charges and will use lithium-ion batteries to power its 4 tiny engines located inside each of the wheels for a total output of 20 horsepower. Don’t expect to break any speed records with the HIRIKO though – its top speed will be limited to about 31 miles per hour…
The initial production numbers will be fairly modest – only 9000 HIRIKO cars are planned to be produced each year between 2013 and 2015 in the different franchises in Europe and America. This is a low number compared to close to 200,000 Toyota Priussold worldwide annually. However the HIRIKO is a new concept for a car isn’t right for everybody or every place. In the already cramped streets of many major European cities, the HIRIKO could prove to be much more useful than any "conventional" car.
So far about 20 cars have been manufactured and there are supposedly 3 version planned later on known as "the Fold"; "the Alai" (a convertible) and "the Laga" (a small truck).
A short demonstration of one of the HIRIKO cars in action
More information can be found on the HIRIKO website.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.