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Published on August 24th, 2019 | by Jennifer Sensiba

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Small & Micro EVs Would Sell & Work Better If They Didn’t Look Funny

August 24th, 2019 by  


My partner isn’t a car, EV, or micromobility person. She’s supportive, and knows a lot from the seemingly endless talking I do about the subject, though. That’s why it surprised me when I brought up a picture of the Organic Transit ELF and she knew more about it than I did. She told me about how it’s powered by pedaling or a built-in solar panel.

“Did you look at the website or see it on social media?” I asked.

“No, I saw one back in Durham.” she replied, referring to her hometown. When I asked her if it was something she’d be interested in trying out, she said, “That thing is funny looking. No.”

I have nothing against the ELF. It looks like something cool I’d like to try out sometime and write articles about. Nor do I have anything against other small and micro EVs. They’re cool in some ways, they help protect the environment, enable the poor to have better mobility, and in some ways they’re actually cute. I’m also quite sure my kids would have a blast with some of the slower ones.

There’s just one problem, though: they look awful!

As good as small EVs like the Smart (and its motorcycle-engined gas predecessors) do their jobs, they just aren’t that appealing. They are built as tall as a more traditional compact hatchback, but much shorter and narrower. I’m sure the reason they’re built this way is for ease of entry and exit and other utilitarian purposes, but it gives them a poor drag coefficient along with the odd looks.

But then again, the Smart looks downright traditional next to the Microlino.

Image by Microlino.

While I don’t know the drag coefficient of the Microlino, I do know that with its tapered shape it is obviously going to be more slippery going through the air. Unfortunately, the homage to the BMW Isetta suffers from the same problem that would keep my partner and most others from considering a purchase. The appeal just isn’t there.

But there is hope for the segment. There’s no reason a small, even tiny and slow eBike-based vehicle can’t look a lot cooler and get better range to boot. Perhaps even sell like hotcakes.

DS Virgin Racing DSV-03 Formula E

Image by Formula E and DS Virgin Racing

While it would certainly be cool to drive around in a street-legal version of a Formula E car, that’s not my point in showing this picture. What it does show is how we can make a compact electric vehicle look cool, and have lower drag at the same time. Put the driver and any passenger lower to the ground!

Even for eBike-based trikes, it shouldn’t be too difficult to change how the driver sits. Ease of getting in and out would suffer some, but handling and aesthetics would be greatly improved.

The only question we need to really be asking is this: which manufacturer will make us a little emobility gokart? 
 

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About the Author

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to explore the Southwest US with her partner, kids, and animals.



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