Hiriko: the foldable and affordable electric car from MIT
The world of innovation is amazing. You almost get what you want, what you lust for, what you desire. It’s rare to find every great feature technology has ever produced molded into a single shimmering masterpiece. But when you do find it, you can do nothing but behold it in admiration. Well, Hiriko is one such instance.
Say Hi to Hiriko!
Hiriko (complete name Hiriko Fold) is a project being promoted by Spanish non-profit corporation AFYPAIDA in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The collaboration seeks to address the massive problem of urban transport by fabricating a ‘City Car’, a light, compact and fuel-efficient car that can traverse the busiest of roads with ease and can be parked on the roadside without hassle. The result is this stylish 100% electric vehicle called Hiriko which literally means ‘belonging to the city’ in Basque language. It is one of the few testimonies to innovation which caters to many current issues such as greenhouse emissions, shrinking urban spaces and yes, the increasing attention we pay to the look and feel of things!
Hiriko is a small, fully electric car that can be folded and made even smaller. This two-seater is as much stylish as it is useful. It is basically designed to aid public transport in cities, to help people reach the transit station of the bus/metro from their home and workplace. Hence, it can prove to be a boon for public transport instead of a competitor. The project was first undertaken by MIT Media Lab under Professor William J Mitchell along with his Smart Cities Research Group. Then in 2009, a budding consortium of small Basque businesses expressed their interest in the project and partnered with the Spanish government who have funded it with $18.5 million.
With such a strong backing, the engineers involved in the breakthrough project expect the car to cost around $16k. This, in Indian currency, would mean less than Rs. 9 lakh which is a very decent amount considering the amazing space optimization and fuel-efficiency the car offers. Tata’s eMO, also a compact fully electric car, but without the ‘foldable’ feature, is expected to cost around Rs. 10 lakh. Certainly, with strong government and industrial support, the Hiriko can become quite affordable while being all the more useful.
Let’s look into the Hiriko and find out why it is special. Firstly, the looks are really elegant and the curves real smooth. The design is aerodynamically and aesthetically sound. The car measures 2.5 m (8.33 feet) when it is being used for driving. When folded for parking or standby, it shrinks to 1.5 m (5 feet!). That’s an incredible drop in length for a two-seater vehicle, making Hiriko more compact than Mercedes Benz’s Smart Car range. You make an entry into the car via a front gate that lifts up (see the above image). When pulled down, that becomes your front mirror. Hiriko sports an aircraft-like yoke instead of a steering wheel and is fitted with an LCD screen. The wheels of the car can turn 60 degrees each – making parallel parking amazingly smooth and bestowing it with a small turning radius.
The car is expected to hit the roads no sooner than 2013 and which roads will it actually hit is also unclear. However, officials have hinted that Hiriko will be best suited for cities like San Francisco, Barcelona and Berlin. Watch the video below and pray that it lands up in your city too!
Abhishek Mittal is an engineering student by profession and a creative writer by passion. Pursuing his B.E. in Electrical and Electronics from BITS Pilani Hyderabad, he is the Co-Editor of Gadgetronica and is deeply interested in the latest happenings of the gadget-world. Often targeted as an Apple fanboy, Abhishek closely follows the business strategies of all the tech-giants, and sometimes predict the future too!
17 August, 2012