Smarter than a Smart Car? How about one that folds up after use? It’s About to go into Production.

As reported by Alex Davies, on Treehugger, the Hiriko, which means ‘Urban” in the Basque region of Spain, is set to go into limited production for a test release of approximately 20 cars next year. The impetus behind the project: if city dwellers won’t give up their non-public transportation devices, they need to be made as “energy and space efficient as possible.”

The design, based on the MIT foldable City Car prototype:

  • seats two
  • has a range of more than 60 miles
  • has four-wheel drive
  • contracts to just under 5 feet long via its collapsible wheelbase!

In his L.A. Times Wheels BlogPHIL PATTON, discusses the original MIT mission behind designing the foldable (and stackable) car:

“The CityCar was less a vehicle than a system and set of ideas that could be applied to many kinds of vehicles, including scooters. The lab’s objective is to preserve the advantages of individual transportation while minimizing drawbacks like congestion, parking scarcity and tailpipe emissions. The electric cars fold together like shopping carts. They communicate over a central network, much like bicycles in share programs in major European capitals, to alert users where and when one might be available.”

The MIT project as originally conceived by Prof. William J. Mitchell and his lab students, that is now headed up by Professor Kent Larson, included a car-share program, where multiple foldable vehicles would stack together in a single parking spot, and potential users would be notified of their location. According to Patton, the Basque investment group Denokinn, which stepped in to partner with the MIT project after  financing from General Motors ended in 2008,  still plans to release a fleet of the vehicles onto the the world’s  streets, but it could also produce the vehicle, depending on the success of the pilot run, for individual purchase.

Drivable Origami for the 21st century? Honk if you like it.

Image from Treehugger.


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