(Phys.org)—Deutsche Bahn, the company that operates the German railway network, will enlist the Hiriko electric vehicle as part of its transport network in Berlin. The Hiriko folding car, targeted for the city's car sharing network, will undergo testing as a "last mile" step in Deutsche Bahn's railway network. This means commuters will use the foldable car to get from station to their final destinations.
Hiriko in Basque means "from the city" and its design and functions are expressly suitable for busy city streets with all their street space and parking constraints. Hiriko is about eight feet long. For parking purposes, one can fold it down to five feet.
The team behind Hiriko set out to pitch their vehicles to municipalities, to in turn rent them out to commuters as shared vehicles. Last year, there were reports that the Hiriko makers were proposing the use of their cars to urban centers such as San Francisco, Berlin and Barcelona, with prices at about $16,000 each.
Hiriko consists of a Basque consortium of auto suppliers and engineers from MIT. The city car concept behind Hiriko was seeded at the MIT Media Lab and commercial development began years later in Basque country, by a Spanish consortium. Berlin has agreed on a pilot project with an initial phase this year, consisting of testing and adaptations for public use in Berlin. The official program is scheduled in 2014. The four wheels are able to rotate at a 60-degree angle. Factors playing into Deutsche Bahn's decision to go with Hiriko as a car-sharing choice include the vehicle's ability to fold and occupy little space, along with what is described as "vanguard" electronics that allow it to connect to intermobility platforms, according to Hiriko's release. The car is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that allows a range of 75 miles between charges. The Hiriko can be recharged in 15 minutes.
In addition to the folding EV, dubbed The Fold, Hiriko plans an "ialai" roadster, which has been shown in Brussels. This is targeted for parks and tourist resorts. Another concept is a truck version called Laga.
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