Battery-powered folding cars wouldn't be out of place in an Inspector Gadget cartoon, but pretty soon, they may be commonplace on the streets of Europe. And you know what's the best part? At only $16,210, they're affordable.
Designed by the MIT Media Lab, the Hiriko -- that's Basque for "urban car" -- is set to go on sale in 2013 across Europe, but most people won't have to buy them to drive them. According to a new story in Fast Company about the unveiling of a new prototype, it "will be deployed in Europe using a car-sharing model a la Zipcar, but run by city governments." Europe is a sensible place to release the ultra compact vehicles, since when the folded, up to three Hirikos can fit in a single parking space. (Makes the Smartcar seem kinda fat, huh?) Check out the expanded Hiriko on the left and a folded, parked Hikiko on the right:
Close up and in real life, the prototype Hiriko kind of looks like a bug -- not a Volkswagon Beetle, an actual bug: