Japanese 'folding' car could solve parking space problem

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Finding a parking space may soon become much easier thanks to a car that can fold itself up and squeeze into small spaces.

TOKYO (REUTERS) - The ancient Japanese art of origami - or paper folding - applied to a car which can squeeze itself into the tightest of parking spaces

The Earth-1 electric car was inspired by the Transformers - toy robots that turn into cars or beasts and back again

A super-power particularly useful when the quest is a parking space in Tokyo.

"Extremely tiny vehicles can park in narrow spaces. We initiated our project to fold a car and transform it in to something smaller to help with the concept of reducing parking spaces," said president and chief executive officer at Four Link Systems, Inc., Hiroomi Kinoshita.

The car was designed by Kunio Okawara, famous in Japan as the artist behind the transforming robots of long-running TV series Gundam, aiming for a new generation of younger drivers.

"Most of all we also wanted to figure out how to attract people who seldom purchase cars and encourage them to start driving a car. So we developed a vehicle which make drivers feel as if they're steering something that's not a car...a robot-inspired shape that makes people feel like they are operating a robot while driving," said Kinoshita.

Four Link Systems hopes to sell 300 Earth-1s a year and has orders for 30 at a price of US$70,000 (S$93,550).

The company says its hoping for authorisation to drive Earth-1s on the public highways in March 2018.

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