The Hiriko Electric City Car Wants To Be Your City Solution
At first, the electric city car Hiriko looked like yet another neighborhood electric vehicle, NEV. But slowly, more and more European cities took to it. It wasn’t long before the European Commission’s President, José Manuel Durao Barroso presented it as the ultimate city solution. But will it make it to the busy streets of New York City and help congested Atlanta and Los Angeles?
Technically Speaking. Weighing at a light 1609 lb, 60% less again than a Smart Car, this EV has a lot to offer. The electric Hiriko has a trick up its sleeves no other EVs has, it folds up. Properly speaking, it reduces its chassis footprint by shrinking to less than, again a Smart Car. What this means is that three Hirikos can park within a traditional parking spot. With in-hub electric motors, the maneuverability of the EV is phenomenal. While all cars can make U-turns, the Hiriko can make O-turns, thus allowing it to revolve around itself when needed. No more parallel parking fear for those parking-challenged drivers. Sporting a lithium-ion battery pack, the range of the car is about 75 miles, which makes it a perfect city car, indeed. The speed has been electronically limited to 35 mph so you won’t get too many speeding tickets with it.
While the idea originated at the Boston's MIT Media Lab by the late William J. Mitchell and his Smart Cities Research Group, it took almost a decade to mature. Originally called the CityCar, it found a warmer welcome in Spain via a consortium that baptized it the Hiriko. And just what does Hiriko mean? No, it’s not Japanese word for manga magazines, it’s a Basque for “Urban”. Due to hit the streets in 2013, the companies involved with the Hiriko’s distribution are mulling over whether to sell it outright for around $15,770 (current rate) or lease it.
There are a few things to like about this EV. Besides the fact it shrinks to a manageable shape when parked, it is registered in Europe as a quadri-cycle, meaning no driver’s license is required. Will the Hiriko make its way to US soil? The consortium says it will introduce it in Boston next year. All in all, the electric city car Hiriko is a smart bet for congested cities and will do as well with local rental companies.