The original bubble cars of the 1950s were the response to transport needs following the Second World War. Seven decades on, things are a little different, but the need for inexpensive, city-friendly transport has never been higher–and one of the most intriguing players is nearing full-scale production.
The Microlino is effectively a modern-day Isetta bubble car, running on electric power and hailing from Micro, the same company behind the hugely popular range of children’s scooters.
The company expects production to begin after homologation and EU type approval, so the world could see Microlinos scurrying around cities as early as this year. Micro scooters for the kids, Microlinos for the parents, Microlinos for … anyone?
The idea behind the Microlino itself is pretty straightforward: performance and range suited to a predominantly urban environment—a 56-mph top speed from a 15-hp, 74-lb-ft electric motor—with up to 124 miles of range and a four-hour charging time. With two seats, the Microlino can easily accommodate the 1.2 passengers Micro says occupy a car in the average European journey, it can comfortably exceed the average 20-mph of city traffic (in London, even 20 mph is optimistic), and it’ll comfortably cover the average 19-mile daily trip several times over.
Unlike many such projects, this diminutive EV doesn’t appear to be some flash in the pan. Micro has shown its retro-modern city car at several motor shows over the last few years, each time displaying a more advanced prototype as it nears production-ready form. The team is now onto Prototype 2.0, which is undergoing testing, with promised safety improvements and better handling.
The frame is now a pressed steel monocoque with aluminum components, in contrast to the earlier prototypes’ lightweight but slightly flimsy-looking tubular frame. Other tweaks are yet to be implemented—there’ll eventually be cyberpunk-style, full-width light bar across the nose—but things should now move quite quickly if all goes to plan. Micro anticipates a third prototype between March and June, EU type approval in August, and production some time after September.
Hagerty has heard this kind of rhetoric before, not least from manufacturers like Renault and Citroën which make their own city-based conveyances. Still, if the price is right (more than £10,000, or $13.9K, is anticipated), then the Microlino could win fans thanks to its cute styling alone.
Report by Antony Ingram for hagerty.com