As part of his diploma thesis at the Frank Stronach Institute, Helmut Brunner has invented a 400kg three passenger vehicle with an electric motor, three wheels, two doors and a roof.
Mario Hirz from Graz University of Technology is supervising the project. "The aim was to develop a car which requires as little space to park as a motorcycle. This has been achieved by reducing the wheelbase to about half. When the vehicle is set up to drive, it is a little over three metres in length. When it's folded, it is about two metres long. It would theoretically be possible to park in a space of two metres," he said.
To be constructed from aluminium and plastic, the car is intended for short distance city trips, able to fit into small parking spaces and transport medium-sized shopping purchases. There are two crates-worth of space at the front of the vehicle. The capacity to carry a third passenger is significant.
"Surveys have shown that a city car which can only accommodate two people is often not sufficient," said Hirz.
The origami car can reach a maximum speed of 60km per hour.
"Security measures will be built in, and the car will also have air bags," explained Hirz.
The developers are also focusing on the use of sustainable materials and building practices. The electric motor is, of course, emission-free.
The development phase is now complete and the search is on for potential sponsors.
Hirz plans to build a scaled-down model as a prototype over summer, which he and Brunner will take to interested parties to demonstrate the 'foldability' of the car.
He anticipates that the market price of the vehicle would be somewhere around €6,000 to €7,000.