Isn’t it? Yes, it is! It’s the little electric car that has already caused a huge stir in the few months since it was announced. They say it’s the car that makes people smile: make way for the little Microlino!
If it looks vaguely familiar, you’re not mistaken. The cool “refrigerator door” on the front is a clear indication: yes, the Microlino is a stylish reinterpretation of the iconic Isetta hovercraft, a popular sensation of the 1950s. The Isetta made driving affordable for the masses in the scarce post-war era, and although it was a cheap car, it was adored by the rich and famous, not least Hollywood legend Cary Grant. The newcomer has been a long time coming, but it has been worth it. It’s been over seven years since the first prototype saw the light of day. In 2021, the production version of the small electric vehicle was finally presented at the IAA Mobility. This came at just the right time, because LEMs – light electric vehicles – are gaining more and more fans and are becoming the perfect everyday companion for the big city.
It’s not easy to get one of the coveted Microlinos. I pre-ordered mine in Geneva over three years ago. And it’s even less easy to build a car company from scratch, much less one that will (presumably) have a limited audience. Even more so when there is disagreement. As is often the case, there have been two changes of contract manufacturers, first it was Tazzari, then Artega, and today the agreement is with Cecomp. This led to a complete redesign of the Microlino 1.0, so that in the Model 2.0 not much reminds of the original Micro-Mini except the basic vehicle layout and design. So the latest update from Micro Mobility and its retro Microlino mini car is encouraging. Now the bubble car is hitting our streets – thanks to the tireless inventor who brought the scooter to the world. Swiss inventor Wim Ouboter, 62, developed his first foldable aluminum micro-scooter 25 years ago, revolutionizing the way people get around. Together with his sons, he hopes this new car will spark a smart transportation revolution – arguably the most radical downsizing of city cars. And he does it charmingly with a smile! With a length of 2.51 meters and a width of 1.47 meters, the Microlino is ideal for driving through the urban jungle.
Microlino: The comeback of a huggable ball
The Isetta replica has been brought back to life by Micro Mobility Systems AG, a company founded in Switzerland in 1996 and better known as a brand for its original mini scooters, pedal scooters, kickboards and e-scooters. Like the Isetta, the Microlino is intended to be affordable, coming to market with an entry-level price of just over 20.000 Euros. The Swiss company also plans to expand the range to include three battery options. The possible ranges are 95 to 230 kilometers. The dwarf’s battery is charged via a Type 2 plug, but a simple Schuko emergency charging cable is quite sufficient to enable it to drive for around five hours again.
The Microlino is already a great success. More than 36,000 prospective buyers have registered for a Microlino, although only a few hundred had been delivered so far. This year, the figure will already be 5,000. Microlino is seeking production partners in each country to reduce the environmental footprint of transportation.
Parking the wrong way? Not with me!
Since last fall, it has been available for purchase: the Microlino, which, with a weight of 450 kilograms without battery, is the smallest and also a very affordable electric car. The microcar, which is modeled on the BMW Isetta, has room for two people and is designed for city traffic with a maximum speed of 90 mph. While it’s not particularly fast, it can do 50 from a standstill in just under five seconds – not bad for the little runabout. While the exterior looks like a modernized Isetta, the power source is up to date: with electric drive instead of a tiny two-stroke engine. The car has inherited many of the Isetta’s charming features: three Microlinos can park crosswise in a standard space. It also has the same forward-opening door, allowing the driver to exit directly onto the sidewalk.
Actually, it’s not really a car. The vehicle, which puts Micro somewhere between a motorcycle and a car (think of it as a trendy alternative to models like the Renault Twizy and Citroën Ami), has an electric motor with 21 horsepower. If you look inside, you will find a completely redesigned body shell, instead of the once envisioned lattice tube frame, a body made of steel sheets and aluminum is now used. The rear axle has increased in size: It has become a full 50 percent wider so that the wheels can be suspended individually. This almost sounds like sophisticated vehicle technology. That the Microlino could already become a collector’s item is shown by the planned limited edition “Pioneer Series” of 999 models. Ate either Atlantis Blue or Torino aluminum, in the interior with portable Bluetooth speakers and with a folding roof it will probably soon Fiat 500 customers in their spell. The kicker is that with every Pioneer model you get a Micro E-Scooter.
This article had been previously published in RETROWELT No. 24
Report by Joachim Fischer
Photo by Microlino