It’s no surprise that our cars are getting smaller. With fuel an ever decreasing resource, we are ramping up the electric vehicle (EV) market with tiny, compact cars that require less energy to run. The people that are meant to buy the cars aren’t changing in size (for the most part), which is why TRW Automotive is working on a market-ready retractable steering wheel. They want to make it easier for the elderly and people with mobility problems to get in and out of the inevitably tiny EVs — like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV — that are coming their way.

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The key benefit is to make it much easier for elderly drivers or other drivers with reduced mobility to get in and out of the vehicle. Due to the significant growth of small city cars, this technology could open up the possibility for even smaller cabin designs,” TRW development manager Manuel Poyant said in a press release. The idea is that when you turn the car off the steering wheel folds in half and retracts itself into the dashboard. Then, when you restart the engine it reveals itself again and locks into place.

TRW has their sights on the elderly population who might find it hard to get out of a tiny, low riding, no emissions car that has a smaller cabin than the larger sedans they may be used to. The company believes they will have their here today, gone tomorrow steering wheel design ready to be installed in vehicles as early as 2016. It actually could be a great complement to Mitsubishi’s latest gadget — the AC power adapter that can run small kitchen devices — since it’ll give the driver more room to stretch their elbows while preparing dinner.

+ TRW Automotive

Via Alligator