A research project at the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

(Prof. William J. Mitchell, director, deceased 2010)

Kent Larson, Research Scientist, director

Update on City Car development and plans included in an article in the Financial Times, May 5, 2013. Includes a photo of the current vehicle design and plans to offer it for sale in the EU next year.

MIT CityCar, Renamed Hiriko, Headed to Production, NY Times article, January 25, 2012

For the most current overview, see the book entitled Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Mobility in the 21st Century, by William J. Mitchell, et al  ( released 31 March 2010) provides several purchase options, some less that $10.

Or see: Two purchase options are provided at this website. You can buy it in electronic form or rent it for a week or month.


Link to an excellent video that presents EV-N vehicle prototypes and deployment concepts
being developed by General Motors
, 9/23/2011

Reinventing the Automobile, Fast Company. 3/24/2010

"A Complete Rethink," Metropolis Magazine. 3/17/2010

"Redesigning the Concept and Role of the Automobile," New York Times. 3/7/2010

There is also a 21 minute video of a TEDxBoston presentation by Ryan Chin that does a nice job of describing the MIT Media Lab's effort on this topic at: It requires lots of GPS and mobile components needed to make it work

Link to: Details about the three vehicular components of the Mobility-on-Demand concept: CityCar, Roboscooter and Green Wheels, click on Mobility

CityCar project description

William J. Mitchell, Ryan Chin, William Lark, Jr., Peter Schmitt, Raul-David Poblano, Michael Chia-Liang Lin and Wayne Higgins

The CityCar is a foldable, electric, two-passenger vehicle for crowded cities. It uses Wheel Robots—fully modular in-wheel electric motors—that integrate drive motors, suspension, braking, and steering inside the hub-space of the wheel. This drive-by-wire system requires only data, power, and mechanical connection to the chassis of the vehicle. Wheel Robots have over 120 degrees of steering freedom, allowing for a zero-turn radius and 90-degree parking (sideways translation); they also enable the CityCar to fold by eliminating the gasoline-powered engine and drive-train. Folded, the CityCar is very compact (roughly 60” or 1500mm), with an on-street parking ratio of at least 3:1 to traditional cars. It is also lightweight (1000lbs) and modular, and automatically recharges when parked, reducing battery needs and excess weight. The CityCar has two use models: private (traditional ownership), and shared (Mobility On Demand, high-utilization, one-way shared systems like Paris’s Vélib' bicycle-sharing program). Work on the CityCar is currently underway in northern Spain - for details see this website.

Case Studies

San Francisco   Lisbon    Shanghai   Florence

The project is a component of a large, MIT-wide, interdisciplinary program called Transportation@MIT  A series of excellent  60-minute seminars presented by various MIT faculty is available as streaming video at this website.

Design Workshops: Portugal (Fall 2010), Vienna (Spring 2011) - studies of implementation issues in urban village settings

Related Articles:

Futurist article: Sustainable Urban Mobility 2020, by Ryan Chin, July-August, 2010 issue

Link to an article from Wired magazine that describes some work at General Motors on a vehicle that is somewhat similar to that designed by the MIT group

Press release from Peugeot that describes some work on the concepts similar to those developed by the MIT group

Link to an article from the New Scientist magazine about progress being made to devise cars that can drive themselves (i.e. RoboCars)

Link to an Engineering News article about 2-wheel electric cars designed by General Motors and partners being shown at the Shanghai Expo 2010, opening 1 May 2010, April 30, 2010

Segway website that describes their 2-wheel vehicle prototype, April 30, 2010

Extensive and current  information about Robocars (driverless vehicles)

Update on MIT's CityCar project, March, 2011

Last modified: May 04, 2013