Electric microcar shape-shifts for moto maneuvering, car stability
Everyone who's ever driven laps around a packed parking lot or city downtown has had the thought at least once: Wouldn't it be great if my car could shrink down to squeeze between two parked cars? Finally, it can – at least if your car is the all-new Israeli-designed City Transformer. The tiny 2.5-m tandem electric commuter stands on a retractable chassis that pushes the wheels out for better driving stability at speed and pulls them in to maneuver through or park in tight spaces, taking up only a fraction of a standard parking space.
With its full-width front light bar and angular cabin, the City Transformer isn't exactly a dead ringer for the Renault Twizy, but it's hard to look at any ultra-slim urban quad-wheeler without the Twizy popping to mind. And at 250 cm (98 in) long by 140 cm (55 in) wide, the City Transformer sizes close to the Twizy's 234 x 124-cm (92 x 49-in) dimensions.
Unlike the Twizy, though, the City Transformer can suck in its gut and slim down enough to zip around alley-width old-city streets and squeeze into parking spaces too small for other vehicles. The adjustable-width chassis pulls the wheels even with the body for a 100-cm (39.3-in) overall tire-to-tire width. This adjustment can be done while the car's in motion, allowing drivers to switch on the fly between two-wheeler-like maneuverability and four-wheeler stability.
The City Transformer doesn't exactly make the Twizy look bloated, but those 24 cm (9.5 in) could prove quite substantial when trying desperately to shoehorn a vehicle into the tiny space left by two poorly parked SUVs. One apparent design flaw of the City Transformer is that the side mirrors, while small, appear to stick out slightly farther than the minimum 100-cm width. We hope they at least fold in to avoid any crunching when taking full advantage of the Transformer's ultra-slim build.
The City Transformer team sees a shape-shifting tiny commuter as an important step toward taking a bite out of the worsening gridlock in major metropolises around the world. It estimates Transformer drivers will have it 10 times easier when it comes to finding a parking space on a crowded city street and emphasizes that traditionally sized cars with large powertrains are overkill for city dwellers, spending most of their lives in parking lots, driving often with one or more seats unoccupied, and carrying around loads of power they simply don't need when averaging 17 km/h (10.6 mph) on city streets.
In contrast to a large sedan or crossover, the City Transformer has a humble 20-hp electric powertrain made up of a single 10-hp motor at each rear wheel. Those motors provide a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) with the wheels pushed out or 40 km/h (25 mph) with them retracted in. City Transformer estimates range between 120 and 180 km (75 and 112 miles) and says that the battery can fast-charge to 80 percent in 30 minutes. The car has a turn diameter of 8.5 m (27.9 ft) and relies on front and rear disc brakes to stop. It includes antilock braking and electronic stability.
The 158-cm-high (62-in) City Transformer has an enclosed cabin with two wing doors. Inside, the air conditioned interior seats two adults in tandem, and City Transformer also plans a version for an adult driver and two children. The design includes one or more airbags.
After developing its first prototype in 2019, City Transformer introduced its production-ready car at this month's IAA Mobility show in Munich. It plans to begin small series production for fleet customers in 2022 after getting its vehicle approved for road use under the EU's L7e classification. From there, it plans to grow production through manufacturing partnerships and deliver the first customer cars in 2024. Preorders are available now to lock in a special price of €12,500 (approx. US$14,650) with €150 down, a discount off the planned MSRP of €16,000 (approx. US$18,750).
Watch the City Transformer do its track-adjusting thing in the video below.
Source: City Transformer