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A Tiny, Fold-up Electric Car Will Hit Streets This Year

The Hiriko Fold is a tiny electric car that can be folded upright to fit in tight parking spaces.

The Hiriko Fold, an electric car that originally began as a research project at MIT, is tiny—smaller than Daimler's smart car. But the Hiriko can go even tinier: The car can be folded up and its length is reduced to 59 inches, similar to the width of a normal car. That means three Hirikos can fit in a standard parking spot.

When it's parked, the car folds up with the driver and passenger still inside; the windshield doubles as a door, so it's easy to park facing the sidewalk and step directly out. Special wheels rotate at a 60-degree angle, allowing the Hiriko to move sideways. The car is entirely powered by electricity, and can travel 75 miles on a single charge.

It can't go fast—its top speed is around 31 miles per hour—but it's not intended to. The car is designed for use only in crowded city centers, and is meant for car-sharing rather than as a private car. For the past two years, the Spanish government has collaborated with MIT to test the vehicle and help bring it to market. This year, the German railway network, Deutsche Bahn, will begin testing Hirikos as part of a car-sharing network. The car will go on sale to select city governments in 2013 as well, at a cost of around $16,000.

Images courtesy of Hiriko.

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