Hiriko Electric Car: Clean, Green, Out-Parks Smarts

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When Smart launched its ForTwo over a decade ago in Europe, the company heavily played the car's ability to park nose-on to a curb, thanks to its short length.

Parking a Smart is hardly difficult anyway, but in crowded cities like Paris, Rome or Madrid, every inch helps.

Still, that perpendicular parking looks pathetic next to the Hiriko electric car (via The Verge), a prototype vehicle from MIT Media Lab.

The Hiriko's party trick is an ability to hinge in the middle, reducing the car from roughly the length of a Smart ForTwo, to around two-thirds that length. You could fit as many as three Hirikos in the space of a normal car.

It seats two passengers, and befitting its city roots uses electric in-wheel motors for quiet, emissions-free transportation. The batteries hold enough charge for a 60-mile range - plenty for a car designed primarily for city driving.

Both front and back wheels can turn, giving 80 degrees of steering angle making parking even easier - effectively turning in its own length.

A front-mounted door makes ingress and egress easier when parked tightly into a space.

Like Gordon Murray's iStream process, the Hiriko is also designed to revolutionize the manufacturing process, allowing automotive suppliers to provide "core" components in modules, to be constructed wherever the vehicle can be distributed.

A pilot program is due to start soon near Bilbao, Spain, but several other cities around the world - including San Francisco - have shown an interest. The Hiriko's target price is just over $16,000.


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