What's the Latest Development?
Following in the footsteps of successful urban bicycle sharing programs, a folding car may finally solve the automobile problem which causes traffic congestion, pollution and an uneconomical use of space in our cities. European cities are taking the lead in introducing technology originally developed by MIT in 2003. In January of this year, the Basque auto company Hiriko unveiled its prototype before the European government in Brussels; the city of Barcelona has calculated that 400 cars would be needed to cover transport needs in the city center with another 6,000 for the surrounding metropolitan area.
What's the Big Idea?
The folding car, or Fold, is designed to solve the "first and last mile problem," a name given by urban planners to explain why people are so hesitant to leave their cars at home. The main problem, they say, is the inconvenient distance people must travel to and from public transport stations at the beginning and end of their daily commutes. The Fold is designed to carry people from municipal stations stocked full of the little car, located very close to their home, to public transport hubs, such as bus or subway stations. Critics of the technology say the cost of each car is currently the same as a small private car.
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