Developed by a Swiss family, made in Italy, electric-powered and with an eventual production target of 5000 a year – could this be the return of the bubble car?
Micro Mobility Systems Ltd, a company run by Swiss brothers Oliver and Merlin Ouboter and their father Wim, first revealed their electric microcar concept at the Geneva Auto Show over two years ago.
Their research into creating a space-saving and eco-friendly urban vehicle revealed that the average car is occupied by 1.2 people and travels a mere 22 miles each day. They surmised that the ideal vehicle would be a mix between a motorbike just like the iconic 1950s BMW Isetta bubble car.
Their initial concept car drew a lot of attention in Geneva and they have now confirmed that the Microlino will be going into production during the second half of 2018. While the first two prototypes were built in China, the brothers have partnered with Italian manufacturer Tazzari to produce up to 5000 vehicles per year starting off with a more modest 100 units for 2018.
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With over 6500 orders already confirmed, the Microlino is off to a good start; the design echoes numerous features that were found in the original Isetta. However, whereas that car had a single-cylinder petrol engine, the Microlino has an electric motor and either an 8kWh or 14.4kWh battery pack. The 20bhp motor allows for a limited top speed of 56mph and the bubble car can accelerate from rest to 30mph in five-seconds.
That's fine for the crowded city streets it is designed for. At 8 feet long and only 5 feet wide the Microlino can also park head-on into standard sized parking spaces, making the most of its front-hinged door design. Interior equipment is about as minimalist as you can get which has helped keep the starting price down to approximately €12,000 (£10,700). Options will be limited but eight funky colours have been confirmed so far with names like Amsterdam Orange, Paris Mint and Barcelona Brown.
According to Merlin Ouboter, the chief marketing officer, the little car passed EU homologation tests in July this year which means that it is now street legal throughout Europe and it also surpassed the initial range calculations with the smaller battery achieving 78.8 miles on a charge and the larger battery managing 126 miles. A typical domestic power socket can recharge the car in four hours or just one hour if a type 2 socket is used.
Plans going forward are to produce a handful of production-ready models by September 2018 and then start delivering vehicles to the Swiss market by December. A step-by-step roll out will then expand deliveries to Germany in 2019, keep an eye out on the official website for the upcoming Microlino configurator and exact delivery dates.