Microlino Lite, image courtesy of Micro Mobility

Microlino Unveils A Lite Version Of Its Microcar

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The Microlino, the Isetta-inspired tiny electric microcar, now has a sibling, the Microlino Lite. The new model, which was just unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, looks very similar on the outside, but is indeed a “light” version of the Microlino, with a less powerful motor and a smaller battery. In fact, its performance specs are more on par with e-bikes than they are with a car, which for the price seems a bit out of line, but then again, a two- or three- or even a 4-wheeled e-bike is not likely to offer anywhere near the same amount of protection — both from the elements and from accidents.

Microcars seem to be quite popular as a concept these days, as hardly a week goes by without the news of yet another tiny e-mobility vehicle that is “coming soon,” but not so popular where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. There’s no real mass production of microcars just yet, and no hordes of tiny urban EVs suddenly flooding city centers, but that hasn’t stopped anybody from trying to build the next big thing in little vehicles.

From an efficiency standpoint, an EV that is just big enough to carry one or two people and their stuff, and that has a range just long enough to get from home to work or shopping and back home again is the way to go. The smaller the vehicle, the fewer the resources needed for everything from the frame to the batteries, which means more of them can be made from the same amount of materials, and at a lower cost — at least in theory — so that more people have access to them. All of that being said, microcars are definitely niche vehicles, as they make a whole lot of sense in certain locations and contexts, but they’re rather divisive in nature — either you love them or you hate them. The new Microlino Lite is virtually guaranteed to have equal amounts of both haters and superfans, so let’s get on with it and look at some of the specs on this microcar.

Microlino Lite

According to Micro Mobility, the company behind these little bubble cars, the Lite is built with a “self-supporting steel unibody,” which is a heckuva lot more protection than any e-bike or electric scooter or motorcycle. It seats two people and has room for “one large check-in and two cabin sized suitcases” in its 230-liter trunk, so it’s big enough for regular daily driving purposes for the average person (families, not so much).

With its 6kW motor, the top speed of the Lite is 45 km/h (28 mph), and it is classified as an L6e category vehicle, meaning it only requires an AM drivers license, and it can be driven by someone as young as 14 in certain European countries. The estimated range is 100 km (62 miles) between charges for the 5.5kWh version, which again, is enough for many, if not most daily transportation needs. An 11kWh battery option extends the range of the Lite to about 180 km (111 miles) Of course, in places such the US, the top speed and available ranges are laughable to many drivers, but again, in certain contexts, NEVs are quite handy — as they say, your mileage may vary.

“The Microlino Lite is our contribution to making sustainable mobility solutions accessible to an even wider community. We recognize the growing need for such mobility, especially among those who want to be safe and protected from the weather without a driver’s license.” — Merlin Ouboter, cofounder of Microlino

Microlino Lite

The Microlino Lite, which will come in two colors, is available for reservation right now (Europe only) and the lease pricing is said to start at CHF149 ($169) per month, or as one source suggests, can be purchased for the equivalent of $19,000. That seems like a whole lotta money for so little of a vehicle — not just in size but in specs as well — but although it’s easy to do the math and say “You could buy several top of the line e-bikes for that price,” what the Microlino and other microcars have to offer that e-bikes don’t is that they drive like a car (no pedaling required) and an enclosed and climate-controlled environment for all-season driving. And that means they are way more accessible to a lot more people, which is really what needs to happen to accelerate the adoption of EVs.

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

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