Back in 1953, an Italian-designed microcar called the Isetta was revealed to the world and instantly won the hearts of the motoring public. The cute little runabout was a mere 2.29m long and had space for two adults and a bit of luggage. Its quirky shape quickly earned it the nickname “bubble car.” The Isetta became a huge hit, with BMW even building its own version under license from the original manufacturer, Iso SpA. After many years of making people smile and with over 160,000 units sold, the pint-sized cute-mobile eventually reached the end of production and disappeared from public roads.
Fast-forward to the present and a Swiss entrepreneur by the name of Wim Ouboter is showing off a tiny electric car, the design of which is reminiscent of the original Isetta. Called the Microlino, it channels the spirit of the original bubble car and updates the concept for the 21st century. Ouboter’s company, Micro Mobility Systems, has announced that the vehicle has passed all the tests required for EU homologation, meaning it is ready to go into production and make people smile again, just like its spiritual predecessor did.
While it may look like the original Italian microcar from over 60 years ago, the Microlino is a completely new vehicle that was developed from the ground up. It uses electricity to carry its passengers around town. Depending on the lithium-ion battery pack (8kWh or 14.4kWh) hiding under the egg-shaped bodywork, the car can drive anywhere from 126km to 202km per charge, reach a top speed of 90km/h, and go from rest to 50km/h in five seconds.
Measuring a mere 2.4m from one end to the other, the car carries many of the Isetta’s unique features, too, such as the single door that opens to the front, and the fabric sunroof that functioned as the ventilation system in the original car. There’s even space for 300L of luggage or shopping bags in the trunk, and the whole thing weighs just 450kg. Recharging its batteries takes four hours with a conventional domestic power socket, and just one hour with a more powerful Type 2 connector. Priced at around €12,000 (P750,000), the Microlino sits in a price range that sees it below many cars but above most motorcycles. One would hope that if mass production started in earnest, the price could come down a bit.
Production is scheduled to commence later this year, with the first vehicles going to buyers in Switzerland and then Germany. Depending on how commercially successful the car turns out to be, we seriously hope it will also find its way to the Philippines at some point, as a small and emission-free city car is exactly what we need to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion. Three Microlinos take up as much space as one full-size car, so this adorable little runabout could be just what the motoring doctor ordered.