Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

Hiriko - the fold-up electric two-seater set for 2013


February 20, 2012

The Hiriko is an electric car that folds up to reduce in length from 100 down to a mere 60 inches - the width of an ordinary car

The Hiriko is an electric car that folds up to reduce in length from 100 down to a mere 60 inches - the width of an ordinary car

Image Gallery (28 images)

That the Hiriko electric car prototype is small is obvious to anyone. Perhaps less obvious is that, in parking, the Hiriko becomes even smaller. Thanks to a folding mechanism that tucks the rear of the car in under the chassis, the Hiriko's length can be reduced to the width of an ordinary automobile. The result? It's possible to park three Hirikos in a single parking bay.

The folding allows the automobile to be reduced from an already diminutive length of 100 down to a mere 60 inches (2.5 down to 1.5 meters). The folding is carried out during parking, and doesn't require the driver to leave the comfort of her seat, much less get her hands dirty.

Better still, the Hiriko's windshield doubles as the car door, so drivers and passengers (the car is a two-seater) can park facing the sidewalk without have to worry about chipping paint or bruising cheekbones attempting to squeeze in and out of narrow gaps.

Perhaps the key feature of the Hiriko is its "robot wheels" which allow the car to turn more or less on the spot about its center. Each integrates a motor, steering actuators, suspension and braking right inside the wheel, controlled by a drive-by-wire system. The car is entirely battery-powered with a single-charge range of 75 miles (120 km).

The Hiriko is an evolution of MIT's CityCar project, in collaboration with Denokinn (the Basque Center for Innovation) and a consortium of Spanish businesses. The word Hiriko itself derives from the Basque words hiri (town or city) and kotxe (car) - so the name is in essence merely an English to Basque translation.

Electric Car News put the price of the Hiriko at £11,000 (US$17,430), which broadly agrees with other figures that have been suggested, though it may be that the car is more popular with city authorities hoping (perhaps clamoring) to introduce fleets of Hirikos for inner-city hire schemes. In any case the electric cars are expected to take to the streets in 2013. The car was unveiled at the end of January by president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

Check out the MIT CG below.

Product page: Hiriko, source: Electric Car News via the Telegraph

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Does it have a cup holder that won\'t spill anything when converting between parking and driving modes?


I have to say that\'s cool as hell. My only real concern is how crash worthy is it in a frontal impact?


@Davey Oops!


I think it\'s a great concept, but here in the US, you can get a 4 seat Hyundai Accent for $17,430!

And other decent cars for below that.


I love the two concerns. And I agree, that thing is cool as hell.

Oliver McFishcloud

I wouldn\'t pay $17,000 for a golf cart. That\'s ridiculous.


I love it. That is a clever design. I currently drive a very light weight Honda Insight mark I. This 700kg vehicle is made of aluminium and when in a crash probably won\'t leave much of me. So here is the thing. I KNOW that and as a result I drive more carefully.

Don\'t you think the increased safety of cars leaves the drivers more careless?

But this car is a perfect city runner. Speeds normally around 50-60 kmh with maybe peaks of around 80 kmh. The lower speeds make it safer already.

This crazy thing about wanting to drive a \"tank\" for safety is out of hand and turns people into poor drivers. You can argue that you are safe but the other person is not but the tide needs to be turned around somewhere.

Scooters tend to be dangerous vehicles in Auckland New Zealand because there are very few. Few push bikes as well. Highly dangerous to drive them. Yet in many big Asian cities there are thousands of these things and form the main traffic on the roads. There it is not dangerous because people are used to them.

The sheer coolness factor of this vehicle would make me put in an order.

Paul van Dinther

you may not have to worry about paint off the door edge,but there may be a few dents in the side when the normal car tries to get out.


The problem they are trying to solve seems valid, but their solution is unnecessarily expensive and complex. If you want a smaller car just count the number of people in each car around you next time you are stuck in traffic, you\'ll find almost all contain only one person. So, why would you choose a complex and expensive folding car when all that is needed is a single seater which would be simpler and probably cheaper?


I would drive this car. I agree with Dinther, If everyone drove these types of cars the danger would be much less. Their already are many smartcar\'s on the road. I welcome the age of the small efficient car.

I hope in the future.we just rent these types of cars or other larger cars for purpose based transportation .

flying Spaghetti monster

@Paul, I agree completely with you, it is all in your mindset. Here in South-Africa a large percentage of our fatalities is actually pedestrians - It is not only about you feeling safe in your tank.

I used to have an old Fiat 128, with zero or no brakes. I weren\'t in one accident, but later on I had an Audi A4, which I have written off!


Not sure if anyone else noted, but think there was a very large bias in the author - \"require the driver to leave the comfort of HER seat, much less get HER hands dirty.\" Quite a sexist way to write the article - notsure if it was intentional and implying these are only for women. I think they are cool though and we need more thinkng like this tomove away from the standard car concept which I beleive is stifling design. Why start with the current car design and modify it as has been the standard.

Martin Yale

$6,000 will dominate here in the U.S. But the dominating force here in the U.S. will not spend $17,000 on this.

Richie Lau

Love the concept, love the car. But... has anyone else noticed that in the image gallery (picture #16, two guys sitting in the Hiriko in business suits), the tires on the car are slightly angled. Almost as if there might be an issue with how much weight the prototype can currently support.

This may be part of the design or optical illusion but there isn\'t another shot of the vehicle straight on to compare.


So, I have to get out of the car to use the Drive-Thru?

This is a fine concept for a \'city\' car, or in other words: A luxury golf cart.

Clearly, this car is not designed for use on the highway.

I \'must\' have one!


U make 100 of those on preorder list, it would sure cost a bomb per unit. But if u invlove say 20 major auto manufacturers from China, india and teh developing world, you could use that technology to sell 10 milllion such units in no time. I am from India, and I know the market is there. Once the production is relocated to China or India and teh levels touch 10 million or around, this would not cost more than 3000 USD at most. That would be very very tempting !


re; Womp

It must be nice to be rich enough to have a single seat car for when you are alone, a two seat car for when you have a passenger, and a four seat car when you have two or three passengers. ...........................................................................................................................

With four wheel steering and high-angle crabbing parallel parking should not be a problem anyway.

I\'ll bet in the real world it will get half its rated range on a charge.


Unless there is an auxillary heater for the passenger compartment (like the old air cooled VWs used to have) this vehicle seems only suitable for mild climates.

Frank Pinkney

Atul292 has figured it out. Very astute. A decade from now this game changer will the most popular car in the world.

Small, light weight cars can be safer than big, heavy cars in crashes. It depends on design.

The challenge will be to supply a battery that charges fast (less than a half hour), and lasts for 5 years, or failing that, is not too expensive.

I would buy one and store it. The collector\'s value in twenty years for an original in mint condition will be enormous.


I agree with Paul van Dinther too. Put every driver at the very front of the vehicle surrounded only with that necessary for personal climate control and comfort. Every driver has to operate more carefully, or it\'s evolution in action and that\'s a good thing too!

I\'ll take three, as I have one parking space to fill up. If you think it\'s not a practical vehicle, you\'re correct. If you think it\'s a practical vehicle, you\'re correct.


Seems like a lot of technology to develop especially for this vehicle. There are a lot of special-purpose parts that might need tweaking for reliability.

Off the shelf things could allow a lighter design. A fully fared quadracycle on four suspension forks with Bionix or Copenhagen Wheels could be coaxed to sixty mph. Skillful aerodynamics (unlike this square, non-aerodynamic design) could go faster and accelerate even better.


It would be great to have one for the sheer fun of seeing the looks on peoples faces. Definitely a \"where did you find THAT!?\" kind of moment...as long as you are the first.

Neil Larkins

Folks.. this is my \'Dream car\'.. honest!


How tall does this thing get when folded? Imagine the cost of repair if it happens to be taller than the parking garage ceiling? I believe the best arrangement is a very efficient car for the majority of travel, with a pick up as a back up when you need more room and more capacity. Interesting concept. I would consider one if the cost were reasonable, but I would like to see some solar recharging capacity to extend the batteries, and prevent failing to reach a charging station in time.


I think that the entire 'fold up mechanism is adding FAR too much to the cost of the car, for FAR too little real gain.

My suggestion? build a version of the Hiriko that IS NOTa fold-up electric two-seater, but just a electric two-seater with regular side doors.

The fold up concept is adding very little to the use and utility of the vehicle, but add TOO much to the price.


Solar recharging of a quick change battery would seem to be a good idea. The price (if the solar canopy and at least 1 spare battery were included) should be about $6,500.

Yes, the great American fear would be to be hit by the carbon monoxide spewing vehicles Detroit keeps pushing on the public. Getting the polluting gas hogs off the road (or in a separate \"hog lane\") would be nice.


re; electric38

If you want to get ICE powered vehicles off the roads come up with something more practical. Horse and buggies weren\'t legislated of the roads.


Tis is a great electric car!!

Alex Rojas Riva

If you combine this car with driverless technology, and a "big if" if driverless is mandated, these cars would be great, even though they're a little pricey.


Wow, so many controversial comments from a single concept! What a great design...at any price! As an avid motorcyclist, I chuckle at the coddled whiners who worry about safety and scurry back to their 15 air-bag, seven cupholder luxo-tanks. Or call a cab for a 3-block transit because walking in Manhattan is too risky. "Ewww, food from a street vendor? I could be poisoned!". Just shoot me when the risks of life outweigh the joy... Or when the vehicle designers and visionary risk-takers have to endure criticism from those with no imagination and even less execution.

Brian Sharpe

Hi, As an owner of a current "Smart Car" living in Brooklyn, I like the idea of a smaller electric car for travelling into the city and being able to find parking easily. Today we have HOV3 restrictions placed on all cars entering Manhattan because of the subway not working too many people are driving into the city alone. I think that's a great idea exept my Smart car is only a 2 seater! So what? I am punished by being eco-friendly and responsible all year long and large SUV owners can pick up people and drive in no problem? That isn't fair and sends the wrong message to people.

City's like NYC should encourage people into downsizing to smller more efficient vehicles and NOT penalize such cars simply because they only fit 2 passengers from entering the city in times of emergency or using HOV lanes either. I would gladly pick up an extra passenger to enter the city but 2 simply don't fit! I feel this, if true, is totally unfair because no prior warning was ever given at the time of purchase or registration of small vehicles stating that in emergency situation they are unable to enter the city through Brooklyn. Another friend wrote me that larger expensive 2 seaters like Mercedes probably would be allowed to enter the cty because, after all, it is Manhattan. That makes no sense to me at all. If 3 people are required to cross the bridges then expensive 2 seaters should be allowed to enter just the same as small 2 seater "Smart Cars" should. But if exensive 2 seaters are allowed to enter the city then so should economical small cars be. What do all you guys think of this issue? Sorry if it is off topic but it does pertain to small car rights I believe. Thank You.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles