hiriko foldable city electric car

Despite the name, it's not Japanese.

That's one of the first surprises about the Hiriko, an urban battery-electric two-seat vehicle that a Basque consortium of auto suppliers is looking to start selling to municipalities for carsharing purposes starting next year, according to the New York Times.

Hiriko Driving Mobility Group, which is working with the Spanish government and MIT (which has been working on the concept since at least 2007) and has an $87 million budget, unveiled its first version of the EV in January and has made about 20 vehicles for testing purposes. Hiroko will come in three versions: the Fold (standard), Alai (convertible) and Laga (truck). The company will target cities such as Barcelona, Berlin and San Francisco for potential purchases.

As we've reported, all of models will be small and will be able to get smaller. The Hiriko will be about eight feet long, about a foot shorter than the Smart ForTwo, and has a hinged body that allows it to shrink its length to about five feet – that's shorter than a typical bicycle. Additionally, all of the vehicle's four wheels will be able to rotate at a 60-degree angle, which is great for both parking and doing donuts.

As for the name, Hiriko is actually a loose translation of a Basque term meaning "from the city."