Folding Electric Microcar Is Headed for Production

© Hiriko

When it comes to getting around cities, most of us TreeHuggers prefer the use of public transportation, bike and feet to private cars, but we're also realists (mostly). So if there's no way to get every urban resident to give up her personal ride, making cars that are as energy and space efficient as possible is the way to go. That's what makes the Hiriko such an intriguing design: it's a tiny, 100% electric car that gets even smaller when it's time to park- because it folds. Even better: the prototype is actually headed for production.

© Hiriko

The car is the product of the Hiriko Project, an initiative started in 2010 to bring MIT's stackable, foldable CityCar to market. Last week, José Manuel Barroso, chief of the European Commission inspected the vehicle and declared it "an answer to the crisis.”

© European Union, 2012. EU Commission chief José Manuel Barroso in the Hiriko.

The Hiriko has four-wheel drive, seats two and has a range of more than 60 miles. The wheelbase collapses, allowing the car to contract to just under 5 feet long. The driver and passenger exit through the windshield, which opens upward.

© Hiriko

It will hit the streets as early as next year, when a trial run of 20 cars will begin. The final price is not yet set, but Hiriko is aiming for €12,500 ( $16,400), the New York Times reported.

Hiriko is the Basque word for urban; the first batch will be produced in the Basque region of Spain. Depending on how the first run goes, the Smart car could go down in history as "that big thing people used to drive."

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Urban Life