In 2016 we reported that a little Swiss company wanted to revive the Isetta as an electric vehicle. They were supposed to release the car in 2017, then 2018, and when it never materialized it seemed that maybe the cute little cars were vaporware all along. But the Microlino is back, and it looks like it’s happening for real this time!
The difference most immediately apparent is that the new Microlino is much sleeker than the first prototype. I’m not sure how Micro did it, but the little pod is even more adorable now. The changes, however, are more than skin deep.
This new Microlino ditches the steel tube frame of the old prototype for a pressed steel and aluminum unibody safety cell. Micro says this new design is much safer, and the new bones didn’t add any weight, either.
The powertrain saw some changes as well. Top speed remains the same at about 55 mph, but the 20-horsepower electric motor is gone in favor of a more efficient 15 horsepower unit. The 15 kWh battery of the original was good for a range of about 60 to 75 miles of range. While the new batteries — 8 kWh comes standard with an optional 14.4 kWh pack — are smaller, Micro says they offer better range. The 8 kWh pack is good for 77 miles while the bigger pack is good for about 124 miles, according to the company. In this case, smaller is better.
And boy, it sure is small; the lovable thing is minuscule, just eight feet long. That makes it even shorter than a Smart Fortwo. The car is still projected to fall under Europe’s L7e quadracycle category, which I guess explains why Micro doesn’t want to call it a car.
As for production, Micro hopes to have EU type approval this summer, with production and deliveries starting only a few weeks later. Base price is expected to be about $14,500. According to Micro’s FAQs, the U.S. version of the car will need design changes. I’ve reached out to Micro for comment on what the U.S. version would be like, and will update when I hear back.
I was rooting for this little thing when we first heard of the Microlino in 2016 and I’m quite happy to see it coming to fruition. I hope to see these stylish things on our roads one day soon.