Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a new urban commuter car that "folds" up for storage, making it much easier to park out of the way, taking up about the same horizontal space as a bicycle.

The Hiriko, claimed to be the smallest electric car, is 100 inches long and is capable of folding up and into only 60 inches long is electric battery-powered. A typical street parking spot can accommodate three Hiriko electric cars in the space of one full-sized car. The car's robotic wheels also have the ability to turn a full 360 degrees.

Passenger and driver enter and leave the Hiriko through a single door on the front of the car. A conventional steering wheel will be replaced by a joystick arrangement. The first uses of the Hiroko will be for car-sharing programmes in cities around the world and will be linked by a central network.

According to reports, the production of 20 cars and a pilot programme will begin next year in Spain's Basque country near Bilbao, and the first cars would hit roads in spring of 2013. Barcelona, Berlin and Malmo, Sweden, have already stated their interest and MIT is planing to expand the cars in Hong Kong and San Francisco.The Hiriko electric folding goes on sale in Spain at about 13,000 euros (about $16,500 US dollars).

Below is a Video from the Urban Car: