JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israeli automotive company City Transformer, creator of a compact electric car which can shrink in size to squeeze through traffic and into parking spaces, has announced that it will collaborate with emergency response organization United Hatzalah to incorporate the vehicles into Hatzalah’s fleet. The agreement will see the EMS organization become the first corporate customer of the innovative urban vehicle.
The vehicles will be offered for use by the organization’s volunteers in a shared fleet vehicle format. The deal is for 1,000 units to be used in various cities in Israel and is worth $22 million. The deal will allow United Hatzalah’s network of volunteers to locate one of the City Transformer car-sharing vehicles and use it to respond to medical emergencies in the vicinity when needed.
City Transformer has developed a 2.49-meter long (8.2 feet) and 1.4-meter wide vehicle with a patent-registered folding mechanism that can contract the wheelbase down to just one meter (39 inches) wide for easy parking or maneuvering through traffic. Inside, there is room for a driver and another adult, sitting in tandem. Alternatively, the passenger seat can take two children. The cabin does not shrink or change shape as the wheelbase narrows. The company claims that four of its cars can park in a regular parking space.
The vehicle, which runs at 45 km (28 mph)per hour in narrow mode and up to 90 km per hour in wide mode, was designed to alleviate the congestion caused by traffic and parking on city streets in urban centers. However United Hatzalah intends to use the vehicles maneuvering advantages to save lives.
Last year, the new model was named in the 2020 annual list of TIME magazine’s 100 Best Inventions “that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.”
Dov Maisel, the vice president of operations for United Hatzalah, told Times of Israel that the organization has been closely following developments with City Transformer as the startup has worked on its innovative vehicles.
“We approached this from two angles. First, the safety of our volunteers and riders. And second, the innovation component. We invented the motorcycle ambulance, and it’s clear why — they can go through traffic easily, for example — but that limits us because not all volunteers have motorcycles licenses or want to be on a motorcycle,” said Maisel.
Having the option of a compact car that can also move more easily through traffic and doesn’t need much parking space, which is scarce in major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, “brings us to the next step,” he added. Maisel referred to the shared fleet as an added bonus for his volunteers:
“This can have volunteers moving more quickly… They can just locate a City Transformer car and go.”
The location, unlocking, and operation of the vehicle will be done through the app on the volunteer’s device, and the address of the emergency will be pre-entered into the vehicle’s navigation software, which will be linked to the Dispatch Center, Maisel explained.
United Hatzalah responds to about 2,000 calls a day across the country, the organization says.