Not only is this a major step in the struggle to solve urban traffic congestion but also a major leap towards bridging social divides. Hiriko,an electric fold-up two seater, was launched by the president of the European commission, José Manuel Barroso. A brainchild of US’s MIT Media Lab and built in partnership with the Spanish government and Basque countries this tiny electric car is said to have serious potential as a solution to the growing social divide.
Hiriko which means urban in Basque is proposed as an answer to theserious traffic congestion problem in Europe and if a success the rest of the world too. When folding the rear of the car is pulled underneath the cabin tipping the car into a more upright position and thus effectively reducing the length of the car to two thirds of its already very small length.
Proposed to hit European roads by 2013 Hiriko will follow a very socially and environmentally friendly model. The car will be built only in the deprived sections of the cities that take up the scheme, the technology entirely being owned by a social enterprise. Private companies will often get involved for free eyeing Hiriko as a test bed for future electric cars and cheap mobility solutions. The car will first be introduced in Malmo, soon to be followed by Berlin, Barcelona, Vitoria-Gasteiz (the second largest Basque city), San Francisco and Hong Kong. The plan for Hiriko is that a fleet of cars will be owned by a local authority available on rent to the masses for a very small fee. The best part is that armed with high tech onboard computers, the car can be left anywhere and then found very easily using a smartphone, thus minimising the risk of theft.
Each wheel will be powered independently by a motor and also be steered electrically adding much needed maneuverability to this urban automobile. There is only one door and that is in the front of the car. This door which also doubles as a windshield is to be used by the passengers to get in and out of the car after it is pushed slightly upright by the folding action. To be driven by a joystick instead of the traditional steering wheel the driving experience will certainly be bizarre for some while being exceptionally thrilling for others. Each of these electric cars will cost 12500 Euros to build.
This is the video of Hiriko by MIT Media lab.