We've all been there. You're looking for parking and come across a spot just a little too small for your car. So you begrudgingly drive on, wondering why you can't shrink your car to fit into a tighter space. Well, here's one that you can.
It's called the City Transformer, and it's being developed in Israel—a country that, while packed with mobility-tech startups, has no domestic auto-manufacturing industry to speak of.
At 92.5 inches long, the City Transformer is more than a foot shorter from nose to tail than the Smart Fortwo, and at 60 inches tall, it's slightly shorter from top to tarmac. It's also just 56.7 inches wide—almost nine inches narrower than the soon to be unavailable Smart, for which easy urban parking was a big sales point. But the tandem-seat City Transformer's party trick is a narrowing track that leaves it just 39.4 inches wide—skinny enough to slip into a spot designated for a motorcycle. Watch this video to see it retract its wheels and side sills.
Unlike a motorcycle, though, it's laterally stable, with a closed cabin to hide its occupants from the elements. But it's still highly maneuverable, with four-wheel steering enabling an 18-foot turning radius that would literally run circles around a Fortwo, or even a roughly comparable Renault Twizy.
It's also light, with an aluminum frame and composite bodywork keeping its weight below 1000 pounds (without the battery). That's less than half the weight of a Fortwo, and the comparisons aren't coincidental: the City Transformer was designed by Johann Tomforde, who spearheaded the initial Smart concepts and directed the brand in its infancy.
Though light and nimble, the CT is hardly what you'd consider a high-performance vehicle. Its electric motors produce no more than 20 horsepower to top out at 56 mph (or 28 mph with the wheels retracted). And its 14.0-kWh battery delivers between 62 and 93 miles on a single three-to-four-hour charge, with quick charging taking just 15 minutes.
It'll be categorized as an L7e-class heavy quadricycle in Europe, and initially as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle in the United States (which would mandate even lower speeds). However, City Transformer's chief innovation officer, Udi Meridor, told Car and Driver that the company is working to "develop a solution to be able to drive anywhere" under passenger-car regulations.
City Transformer aims to launch a pilot project in Tel Aviv next year, followed by select European cities. Car-sharing and logistics fleets are slated to follow before a more widespread consumer rollout. It's slated to reach our shores toward the end of 2021, starting with a few pilot projects in select cities prior to going national, dependent on demand, Meridor confirms.
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