- (Photo: Yves Herman/ Reuters)
A small fold-up car designed in Spain's Basque country debuted on Tuesday to curb city pollution and clutter. The car will be available in European cities in 2013, according to Agence France-Presse.
The car, named "Hiriko," the Basque word for "urban," is an electric two-seater with the motor built under the wheels. The Hiriko, which has no doors, folds up like a child's convertible stroller for convenient parking, a common problem in the city.
The car's four wheels pivot at right angles to allow sideways parking in small spaces.
The concept of Hiriko, initially thought up by Boston's MIT-Media lab, was developed by seven Basque firms under the name Hiriko Driving Mobility, AFP reported.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso unveiled a prototype on Tuesday, demonstrating to reporters how a driver would use the fold-up front windscreen to enter the 1.5-metre-long car.
"European ideas usually are developed in the United States. This time an American idea is being made in Europe," consortium spokesman Gorka Espiau told AFP.
Several European cities, including Barcelona and Berlin have shown interest in Hiriko. San Francisco and Hong Kong have also expressed interest in investing in the vehicle, AFP reported. London, Paris, Boston, Brussels and Dubai have already begun talks with makers.
Developers are also discussing with numerous European cities to assemble the Hiriko, which can run 120 kilometers (75 miles), without a recharge and with a speed that electronically sets to observe city speed limits.
The goal is to have the Hiriko become a city-owned vehicle up for hire like many bicycles already available in European cities, or put it privately up for sale at around 12,500 euros, AFP reported.
Investors have described the revolutionary "Hiriko" development as a "European social innovation initiative offering a systematic solution to major societal challenges: urban transportation, pollution and job creation," AFP reported.