Basque Country collaborates on pioneering urban electric vehicle

25 January 2012

BRUSSELS: Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, President of the European Commission, presented a pioneering urban electric vehicle called the ‘Hiriko’, in Brussels yesterday, the result of a collaboration between member of The Climate Group, the Basque Country, other Spanish governments, a group of Basque enterprises, MIT and the EU.

The Hiriko is a two-passenger vehicle which is designed specifically for shared-use rental vehicle systems, or, the ‘Mobility on Demand’ (MoD) system. The MoD system aims to solve the ‘last mile, first mile’ problem that is associated with public transport networks, where passengers still require transport to and from their first and last bus or subway stop. 

The innovative new vehicle is a result of international collaboration between a consortium of Basque enterprises and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The project is supported by the Basque Country and Spanish governments, as well as the EU’s social fund.

Hiriko’s unique architecture means the vehicle can fold practically in half, allowing three vehicles to fit within one parking space. This is due to the central engine and traditional power train having been replaced with four in-wheel electric motors at each corner.

The first trial of this new mode of urban transport will take place in Malmö, Sweden. Hiriko will then be introduced across the world, in the leading cities of Barcelona, Berlin, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Vitoria-Gasteiz.

President Barroso, President of the European Commission said: "Hiriko is European social innovation at its best. Firstly, it is a successful example of how to give a new lease of life to traditional industrial sectors by contributing to address major modern societal challenges, in that specific case, urban mobility and pollution. Secondly, it is a great combination of new business types of cooperation and employment opportunities with a strong social dimension. Hiriko was initiated thanks to a European social fund project aiming at stimulating job creation in a disadvantaged area."

Luc Bas, Director of European Programs and International States and Regions, The Climate Group, also highlighted the multifaceted benefits of such a low carbon and social innovation: “This is exactly what the Clean Revolution is about: different actors from business, science and governments working together to develop innovative solutions that benefit regional development, job creation, life quality and the climate - at the same time.” 

The Hiriko project follows a strong line of EV innovation projects initiated in the Basque Country. Following its commitment to 10% of all vehicles sold in the region being electric by 2020, the Government is also one of the leading regions in developing innovative public private partnerships to overcome regulatory and financial barriers for the implementation of smart technologies. These include an agreement with REPSOL (Spain Petroleum Refinery) to build an EV charging network in the Basque Country, and an agreement with Mercedes Benz to build a new electric van at their industrial plant in Vitoria. 

Read more about our work with the Basque Country

The Hiriko project

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