When the smart car is just too big: MIT's tiny city car concept

What do you get when you design a city car from the ground up with emphasis on "weather protection, climate control and comfort, secure storage, and crash protection – in the cleanest and most economical way possible"? If you are at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you could come up with a vehicle that, "weighs less than a thousand pounds, parks in much less space than a Smart Car, and is expected to get the equivalent of 150 to 200 miles per gallon of gasoline." This sure sounds like an evolution of MIT's 2007 city car concept to us.

For this latest concept, MIT has abandoned traditional centralized powertrain designs by incorporating four in-wheel motors to power the diminutive electric car. Power comes from a lithium ion battery pack that can recharge in as little as 15 minutes although no mention is made as to the capacity of the pack. Utilizing in-wheel motors allowed the designers to fold the car vertically when not in use, thus significantly minimizing the electric vehicle's impact in a crowded urban environment. In this configuration, three city cars will be able to fit in a conventional parking spot.

While this project is still in the early stages, we applaud MIT's out-of-the-box thinking. With the general trend of people moving from rural to urban environments, these types of low-impact vehicles could soon be a necessity.

[Source: The Energy Collective | Image: William Lark, Jr. ]

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