26. May 2022 | Lisa Brack
A car that fits into every parking space, no matter how small? This is possible with the City Transformer CT-1. At the push of a button, the small electric car shrinks to a narrow 100 centimetres. The e-car from Israel is currently only available as a prototype, from 2024 it is to be mass-produced. We tested the E-Flitzer and shrunk it while driving.
Let’s be honest: Nobody needs an SUV for the city, but a small, agile electric car. There are already such small electric cars, many know them Renault Twizyjust recently he did Opel Rocks-e A sensation, there are countless electric cabin scooters that for a few thousand euros over the Counter at Netto and Lidl migrate, the origin and quality of which is highly uncertain. But the big disadvantage of these e-boxes with the small insurance number plate: You drive a maximum of 45 km/h – you quickly become an obstacle on the ring road or on inner-city expressways and motor roads.
And this is exactly where the City Transformer CT-1, an invention from Israel, stands out. Because the two-seater, weighing just 450 kilograms, reaches a top speed of 90 km/h. In order to do this, however, it needs a feature that we do not know from any other electric car in this country: it changes the track width at the push of a button – while driving! The wheels roll outwards slightly, and the wheel housings move with them via a mechanism. In this so-called performance mode, the City Transformer CT-1 is 1.40 meters wide – still narrower than a Smart ForTwo (1.66 meters). In the interior, however, nothing changes, it remains the same narrow. It’s all about the stability that the car needs to get through the corners well at 90 km/h.
If you then go looking for a parking space with CT-1, you don’t have to look far. A gap is found in no time at all, because it only has to be a tad wider than a meter. After all, the City Transformer measures just 1,000 millimeters with the track width retracted, and the doors open upwards as gullwing doors.
Range for the city and the surrounding area is completely sufficient
The Israelis easily specify a range of 120 kilometers with heating, and those who drive very moderately should even be able to travel 180 kilometers. Speaking of heating: This is exactly where the City Transformer differs from Twizy & Co. Because instead of hard-shell seats and the most spartan interior fittings, the CT-1 has heating, doors, automatic windows, upholstered seats, air conditioning and even a multimedia system including a reversing camera an upright tablet.
It is charged either via type 2 at a suitable charging station or wall box or via the socket. The product experts at City Transformer tell us that the battery, which is just 16 kilowatt hours, should be fully charged again in the first case from 0 to 80 percent in 30 minutes. On the other hand, it takes 2.5 hours via the Schuko. However, the battery cannot be removed, as it would be too heavy at 130 kilograms.
According to the manufacturer, the exotic consists of just about 1,500 individual parts. At the market launch, they want to cooperate with well-known service partners – we suspect workshop chains such as ATU or Pitstop.
pressinformInterior: Significantly more luxurious than the Twizy or Rocks-e.
First driving impressions: right in the middle instead of just being there
In May 2022, EFAHRER.com was able to get behind the wheel of a prototype built by a company in Roding, Bavaria, for demonstration purposes. Incidentally, the final production site is not yet known, but the CEO of City Transformer assures us that it should be in Western Europe. This could apply to Magna, for example, with whom one is said to be in conversation, among other things.
Our test drive starts out very cramped for the 1.85 meter tall passenger, because there is hardly any room left and right for his legs, which is due to the gullwing doors that retract when they are closed. We are assured that this will be significantly different in the final version. Just like the seats, which come from a bus – later they should be special seats with a narrow backrest, so that the passenger can also look ahead.
So press the start button and off you go with the track width retracted through the rush hour on a Tuesday afternoon in Munich. As soon as we pull out of a parking space, we notice: Oops, no power steering! The management team gives us no hope that one will come in the series Transformer. So we crank ourselves out of the parking lot with muscle power and step on the gas, uh, electricity. From 6 km/h we press the all-important button: With a grinding noise, the City Transformer increases to a track width of 1.50 meters in about 3 seconds. However, we drive on undeterred and laugh at the open mouths of our backers.
Even if the two electric motors on the rear axle only deliver 22 hp, the little one gets going quickly and with the extended track width it manages to reach 50 km/h in less than 5 seconds. We don’t experience driving comfort like in a normal car, it rather jerks and wobbles, ambient noises can be heard clearly – you’re right in the middle of it instead of just there. The brakes (with ABS) act very late on our prototype, so you have to step on your irons hard – that too is set to change.
At stop-and-go and at the latest when looking for a parking space at less than 30 km/h, we press the shrink button again. The grinding noise can be heard again as the City Transformer goes on a gauge diet in a matter of seconds while driving.
When parking, powerful cranking is required again due to the missing servo. Since the little one hardly needs more than one meter of space, we immediately find one of the much sought-after parking spaces in Munich. A Smart ForTwo would not have fit in here anymore.
Even if the gullwing doors are a spacey eye-catcher and also allow parking in very tight spaces, they seem wobbly on our prototype and only snap into place after repeated attempts. Here we would have wished for a solution with smooth-running sliding doors.
In the end, the author gets out of the City Transformer relaxed, while our passenger takes a while to fold out.
luggage space? Only without a passenger
The Israeli invention will come in three variants: Basic, Premium and Logistic. The latter should be a single-seater with luggage space – the Israelis are talking about up to 500 liters of cargo space. In the other two versions, there is virtually no space for luggage – unless you are not taking a passenger with you. Then you can fold down the back seat of the second seat and stow a beer crate or something similar there. It remains to be hoped that there are still a few storage spaces in the production version.
What about security?
The car is to be homologated in Germany, i.e. registered. Those who meet the strict German standards can handle any road on this earth. Security is also an issue. “We want to achieve three stars in the Euro NCAP test,” explains Formoza confidently. For comparison: It would be well above a Dacia Spring, which could only get one star there, and one step below the Fiat 500e with its four stars.
City Transformer CT-1: market launch and price
Series production is scheduled to start at the end of 2024, and from 2025 15,000 City Transformers are to be sold every year and traded on the New York electronics exchange NASDAQ. You can already download the City Transformer pre-order without obligation, by depositing 150 euros. This is how you secure the premiere price of 12,500 euros, later the City Transformer will cost 16,000 euros. A proud price when you consider that this vehicle class does not receive any e-car subsidies. At best, you are then qualified for the GHG quota, which brings in around 350 to 400 euros a year. A Dacia Spring, on the other hand, will cost you little more than 10,000 euros after funding. He offers significantly more comfort and space, but unlike the City Transformer CT-1, it doesn’t have a built-in parking space. Instead of being a car for the end consumer, we give the city runabout better chances as a sharing car in big cities where there are fewer parking spaces.
City TransformerOn the road: with a narrow track width up to 45 km/h, otherwise 90 km/h.
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