Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hiriko - the small is beautiful concept Car..




Sure you have seen these beautiful cars on road and sometimes envied them for they can easily move around in city traffic – much like an auto rickshaw – a rich man’s vehicle at that – for it can seat only two and costs much more than an auto rickshaw.  It is the Reva car – an electric car – founded in 1994 from the stables of Reva Electric Car Company, a car manufacturer based in Bangalore.  Understand that this car was a hit in London.  Subsequently this was acquired by Mahindra & Mahindra in May 2010.   If the concept of small car zipping through the traffic of the city with ease caught your imagination – here is more to read about Hiriko. 

Hiroko Niizuma Suzuki is a Japanese professional wrestling valet and promoter best known in the United States for her work for World Wrestling Entertainment on its Smack down!  brand under the ring name Hiroko. As you would know, in professional wrestling,  there are managers,  a secondary character paired with a wrestler,  often either a non-wrestler, an occasional wrestler.  This post is more about Hiriko – a working model of car dubbed as ‘city car’ recently unveiled at Brussels as a concept solution to the congestion of metropolis, especially to the parking slot woes. 

Little wonder that the  birth of  electric car prototype that folds into itself to save parking space, and is powered by four in-wheel motors has soared the expectation of people Worldwide.  The tiny vehicle resembles a sleeker, runtier version of a Smart Car. However, this runt has the ability to fold in on itself for an upright, space-saving parking maneuver that appears to be directly out of a sci-fi novel. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  claims that three or four Hiriko vehicles can fit into a standard parking space. Furthermore, the Hiriko has the ability to turn on its axis for virtually no turning ratio, thanks to its four independent electric motors (one for each wheel). It can even move sideways in a crab-like manner, virtually eliminating the need to ever parallel park the old-fashioned way.  The future of driving may soon be at our doorstep, and at an estimated $12,500(US) ticket price, that future may be more affordable than we thought – but that translates to a whopping 5.85 lakhs is another issue.   The Hiriko car is a battery electric vehicle, with two-seats and is designed to be used in cities. Fully extended the car is  only about 2.5m long.  It will have a maximum speed of 50 km/h (31 mph). It has an range of 120 km (75 mi) and the time required for charging it will be about 15 minutes. The car's lithium-ion batteries are placed low in the floor of the car make the centre of gravity low.  The car would weigh less than 500 kg.  

Wait, you cannot have it on road as the  first run of this vehicle will be available in 2013. Production of 20 cars and a pilot programme will begin next year in Spain’s Basque country near Bilbao, and the first cars are set to roll down the road in spring of 2013. Barcelona, Berlin and Malmo, Sweden, have already stated their interest and MIT is looking at deploying the cars in Hong Kong and San Francisco. Vitoria Gasteiz, just outside of Bilbao in Spain, will be the first city to get its hands on the Hiriko. Other cities, including Berlin, Boston, Hong Kong, Malmo, and San Francisco, are also in line for a trial run. The consortium behind the project hope this will allow cities to free up some of the many square miles of precious space parked cars currently inhabit.  Several European and American cities are to be the scenes for the initial trials. Such trials will closely resemble in execution Paris's new electric car hire/share scheme Autolib, according to the makers. Trials begin in autumn this year in cities such as Bilbao, Malmo and Boston. 

Interestingly, the vehicle is to be  registered as a quadricycle,  and would not require a driving license in some countries.  The name Hiriko comes from the Basque word for ‘urban’.  Passenger and driver enter and leave the Hiriko through a single door on the front of the car. There are no side doors. The entire front of the Hiriko opens for easy access, and the controls swing out of the way.  Up to two people can enter and exit the car by lifting up the glass windshield — essentially the whole front of the car — and the driver steers with a joystick.

A car as small as the Hiriko may seem inherently unsafe, but its designers say they thought about that. Anyway, it is not a car for highway use but only designed for use inside the city.   A conventional steering wheel will be replaced by a joystick arrangement or a "haptic" steering wheel that physically tugs at a driver's fingers when told to do so by the on board navigation systems. 

So whether with all conveniences of parking and maneuverability it offers, it still turns out to be a hit among users remains to be seen

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
15th Feb 2012.

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