Micro Mobility is a Swiss company that specializes in moving people from place to place in small, energy efficient packages that use a minimum of precious resources. One of its products is the Microlino, a modern day iteration of the original Iso Isetta that first went into production in Italy in 1953. One of its more endearing characteristics was that access to the interior was by a front-mounted door with the steering wheel attached.
Performance was measured in furlongs per fortnight, but at a time when new cars of any description were a luxury in Europe after the destruction of World War II, it was embraced by those who could afford one as a suitable alternative to walking. It was basic transportation, with the emphasis on basic. But when gasoline was in short supply, its single-cylinder engine got 78 miles per gallon.
Like the original Fiat 500 and Austin Mini, both of which were postwar designs intended to be basic people movers when raw materials such as steel and glass were in short supply, the Isetta became a cultural icon. It was even featured 60 years later in the Cars movies from Pixar. It’s hard to image it now, but it was the mainstay of the once mighty BMW, which built the Isetta under license from 1955 to 1962 until the groundbreaking BMW 1500 was introduced.
The Microlino is faithful to the original, right down to the front-mounted door with steering wheel attached. “This is not a car,” the company says on its website. “It is the ideal mix between a car and a motorbike.” It comes with a 12.5 kW electric motor and a choice of three battery sizes — 6 kWh, 10.5 kWh, and 14 kWh. Driving range is 91 km, 177 km, or 230 km respectively. There is 89 Nm of torque available and the “sprint” to 50 km/h takes a heart-stopping 5 seconds! Recharging the battery takes less than 4 hours using a 240 volt outlet, which is the standard in Europe. Top speed is 90 km/h and the whole car weighs a mere 535 kg with the largest battery.
People have been waiting for the Microlino since 2016, and the company is rewarding the first 999 of them with access to the Pioneer Edition of the new car, which will be built in Torino, Italy, using 80% European parts. The car is equipped with the 10.5 kWh battery, comes in Atlantis Blue or Torino Aluminium, and includes a sunroof, vegan leather and suede interior, portable Bluetooth speakers, and a unique numbered plaque inside, according to Inside EVs. Cargo capacity is a rather capacious 230 liters (8 cubic feet).
Why 999? Because, according to Electrive, it is an “homage to our first innovation, the Micro Scooter that founder Wim Ouboter invented in 1999,” the company says. It expects to manufacture 7,000 of its car/motorbikes in the first year of production. The Pioneer Edition is priced at €12,500.
Will the Microlino be available in the US? Of course not. Don’t be silly, gasoline breath. Even though studies show half of the 50 million trips Americans make every day are less than 3 miles in length, no right-thinking citizen would pass up the chance to drive an 8,000 pound behemoth that can take on the Rubicon Trail while towing a ski boat up a mountainside. Ain’t gonna happen.
Most Americans would die of shame if they were forced to drive one of these things. For the rest of the world, however, the Microlino could be just what the doctor ordered for driving in congested cities with roads that are just wide enough for a Roman chariot.
If you live in Europe and would like a thoroughly modern take on basic transportation, you might want to put your order in for a Microlino right away, before they’re completely sold out.