Combining the world of two wheels with that of four wheels, taking the best of both, creating the perfect vehicle for urban contexts. This is the mission of the CT-1 electric microcar created by the Israeli start-up City Transformer. It is still a prototype – the seventh since the company was founded in 2014 – but it is approved for circulation and its main feature is that it can widen the track on the go. Just press a button on the steering wheel and in two seconds the width increases from one meter to 1.4 meters, thanks to a patented technology. Thus, in the most chaotic traffic the CT-1 creeps almost like a scooter, reaching a maximum speed of 45 km/h, while as soon as the road clears it widens, increases stability and can reach 90 km/h. The length, on the other hand, is the same as the Smart first series, those 2.5 meters that invented cross parking.
There are two seats, in tandem, like on the Renault Twizy, compared to which the CT-1 boasts greater comfort thanks to the doors that completely close the passenger compartment. At a regulatory level, the CT-1 is a heavy quadricycle and therefore can be driven from the age of 16, but to make these speeches we will have to wait for the start of mass production, scheduled for 2025. The definitive model will be called CT-2 and its engineering is being carried out by Cecomp of Turin, specialized in this area. It almost certainly won’t have Lamborghini-style scissor doors (due to cost issues), given that the goal of the City Transformer is to keep the final price within 16,000 euros (the pre-orders collected are already 2,000), a sum comparable to that of a city car or a high-end maxi-scooter. As for the technique, the CT-1 is powered by two 7.5 kW electric motors – one for each rear wheel – for a total power of 15 kW.
The total mass, including the batteries that allow a range of 180 km and a full charge in less than an hour with a direct current system, is 590 kg and the braking system uses four discs. The digital sector was entrusted to the Bosch Software division, to allow instant interaction between the vehicle and the user’s smartphone via the CT-Connect app integrated into the tablet installed on board, which also supplies part of the instrumentation. The aim is to facilitate as much as possible the sharing of a medium that has sharing in its DNA, not only the one we are used to seeing on the streets of the metropolis, but also another more limited one for residential complexes or large hotels. While waiting for the CT-2 to be ready for the market, we tested the CT-1 on the streets of Milan, starting with a certain amount of caution given its prototype nature. The driver’s seat is comfortable even for very tall people and all the controls are close at hand.
To tell the truth, there aren’t many controls, but they are arranged intelligently and are all easily accessible. Essentiality reigns supreme – it couldn’t be otherwise on a vehicle whose primary purpose is to make life easier for the user – but they are good; the tablet shows images from the rear camera while maneuvering and the mirrors are a bit small. Of course there is no gearbox, but a small knob to select neutral, forward and reverse. So driving the CT-1 is child’s play: the pedal set is dug into the floor and allows the legs to assume a natural angle, even if the support of the right foot could be more extended. Just touch the accelerator pedal and the CT-1 moves smoothly but always with good shooting ability available. Braking, on the other hand, is a bit long but let’s always remember that this is a prototype. What will certainly need to be improved is the turning circle, which is a bit large for the overall dimensions of the vehicle. However, any judgment on comfort and driveability should be deferred to the final version, but the premises are undoubtedly excellent.