Parking is a problem in many large cities, and extremely small cars are manufactured specifically to allow drivers to pick smaller parking spots.
If a person buys a large car, they may be unable to park it. But if that person buys a small car, it may be insufficient for their people-and-goods-transporting needs. A conundrum!
Instead of having to choose between two car sizes, this proposal is for a “best of both worlds” car with a collapsable back seat. See figures 1 and 2, below, for extensive technical schematics.
Fig 1: A diagram of the car. Unfortunately, there is little room to remove in the green region (engine) or blue region (trunk / rear window / rear wheel attachment area). So we will instead focus on compressing the back seats (yellow) and front seats (orange).
Fig 2: The same car, in its compressed “small parking spot” mode. The yellow back seat region has compressed to almost nothing, while the orange front seats have collapsed very slightly, leaving just enough room for the driver to still maneuver the vehicle.
Although there would be certain technical challenges in making an accordion-like vehicle that could still pass highway safety regulations, this would be an worthy project for any automotive engineer.
PROS: Combines the transport flexibility of a larger vehicle with the parking convenience of a small one. If any patents with this idea were filed by the creators of the Inspector Gadget cartoon, they will have already expired at this point.
CONS: Be careful not to put the car into “small parking spot mode” when passengers are still in the back seat.