Small cars are a good idea for a lot of good reasons. Not only are they easier to drive, more maneuverable, and much more economical to drive; in congested cities like New York they are also a LOT more easy to park. Just try wedging your beastly SUV into a tiny parallel parking spot at rush hour. It’s not a matter of parking skills, it’s a simple case of “will it fit in that teeny tiny spot?” The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) recently unveiled a new electric concept car aimed at solving that problem by folding the vehicle at its center point… and it’s inspired by a threatened armadillo.
Fittingly called Armadillo-T, the miniscule 2-door car manages to decrease its size from a fully extended 110 inches down to just 65 inches when folded. That’s tinier than the well received Smart Fourtwo which measures a non-folding 106 inches in total length. It’s also small enough to park 3 Armadillo-T’s in one conventional parking spot. Professor In-Soo Suh, Associate Professor in the Graduate School for Green Transportation and head of the research group that produced the concept commented on the uses for the rather bizarre vehicle:
“I expect that people living in cities will eventually shift their preferences from bulky, petro-engine cars to smaller and lighter electric cars. Armadillo-T can be one of the alternatives city drivers can opt for. Particularly, this car is ideal for urban travels, including car-sharing and transit transfer, to offer major transportation links in a city. In addition to the urban application, local near-distance travels such as tourist zones or large buildings can be another example of application.”
Considering the current demand for smaller, more economical cars and the increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, there will be buyers for cars similar to these in the future. But, we’d have to agree with the assessment of Core77′s Teshia Treuhaft: other factors in the current electric car market easily outweigh the need for an elaborate mechanism for shrinking your car (namely a better infrastructure for car charging and perhaps simply making smaller parking spots).