Hiriko electric car to use Axeon batteries

The urban electric car two-seaters, which will be built in Vitoria-Gasteiz, feature a unique folding design that allows them to park in a very limited space, with a single access door at the front of the vehicle and a steer-by-wire system, which removes all mechanical steering components.

During the first quarter of 2012, Axeon will supply each Hiriko prototype with two lithium-ion batteries mounted in parallel – one in each half of the vehicle, with electric wheel-mounted motors providing four-wheel steering and four-wheel drive.

Hiriko intends to franchise its production model to enable the vehicles to be locally and sustainably produced by a number of consortia in different markets. Hiriko urban electric vehicles will be particularly targeted at large cities in which they will be available for rental. The vehicles will be homologated in 2012, and the prototypes will be tested in cities around the world, prior to a projected launch in 2013.

Lawrence Berns, Axeon CEO, said: "We are delighted to be involved in this exciting and pioneering project with Hiriko. Their selection of Axeon as battery supplier underlines our ability to provide solutions for different vehicle types and adapt our technology to suit a wide range of applications – from traditional vehicles to more challenging designs and concepts."

The first Hiriko electric car was unveiled on 24 January 2012 at the European Commission’s headquarters. Hiriko is part of a sustainable mobility project, which ultimately aims to reduce the number of conventional vehicles in new urban areas.

Its makers are in talks with a number of European cities to assemble the tiny electric cars that can run 120 kilometres (75 miles) without a recharge and whose speed is electronically set to respect city limits.

They envisage it as a city-owned vehicle, up for hire like the fleets of bicycles available in many European cities, or put up for sale privately at around 12,500 euros.

Several cities have shows interest, including Berlin, Barcelona, San Francisco and Hong Kong. Talks are underway with Paris, London, Boston, Dubai and Brussels. The vehicle’s four wheels turn at right angles to facilitate sideways parking in tight spaces.