Two brothers from Switzerland in 2016 presented an electric city car whose design was inspired by the iconic Isetta—right down to the front-mounted door.
Called the Microlino, the cute two-seater is the result of Oliver and Merlin Ouboter's desire to free up space in cities and promote environmentally friendly mobility in a way they described as “fun and cool.”
The Ouboter brothers have since formed the company Micro and have partnered up with Turin, Italy-based Cecomp to handle production of the Microlino. The last of the pre-production examples have been built and Micro is on track to start customer deliveries of the Microlino this summer.
Deliveries will initially be in Switzerland only. Italy and Germany will be added later this year and Micro hopes that deliveries to the rest of Europe will be possible by the end of 2023. Availability in other markets hasn't been announced.
At full production, a Microlino will roll off the line every 20 minutes. Micro said that around 80% of the parts are sourced from Europe, with the majority from Italy.
Pricing starts at 14,990 euros (approximately $15,660), which gets you the base Urban Edition trim with a 6-kilowatt-hour battery good for about 55 miles of range. Above this are 10.5- and 14-kwh options, delivering 108 and 143 miles, respectively. In each case, power comes from a 15-hp electric motor that will enable a top speed of 55 mph, meaning the Microlino is for city driving only.
Although there has been a lot of interest, with 30,000 reservations already made, Micro discovered early on that building cars isn't an easy business. The company ultimately missed its original 2018 timeline for the start of production, though the good news is that the delay meant the company could reengineer the car to make it significantly safer.
While the original design featured a steel tubular frame chassis, the updated design features a stiffer and more rigid unibody structure made from pressed steel and aluminum. Impressively, the new design hasn't added any weight, with the car claimed to have a curb weight of 1,095 pounds with the smallest battery, rising to 1,180 pounds with the biggest battery.
What's also impressive about the Microlino is that it is only about 8.0 feet in length. It means you can fit three of them parked nose to curb in the space normally taken up by one car. The Microlino also has a handy 10.6 cubic feet of space in the trunk.
With inflation on the rise, the affordable Microlino has the potential to become a cult classic, just like the Isetta and original Fiat 500 did back in the 1950s.