Swiss mobility company Micro has unveiled the second iteration of its two-seater microcar, the Microlino. The car features a retro bubble car-style, modeled after BMW's iconic Isetta from the 1950s, except this time it's all-electric. The Microlino was originally introduced back in 2016 and went into production in late 2018.
A common refrain from skeptics of small automobiles is that they're unsafe because riders risk being squashed like a bug if they ever crash into a larger sedan. There's some truth to that (though it's complicated), so the biggest improvement in the Microlino 2.0 is its new steel and aluminum frame that's said to give it the structural integrity of a full-size automobile. Micro says the new body structure "has already shown big improvements in safety" without adding weight.
Goldilocks of cars — Even though they've never taken off in the United States, small, two-seater passenger vehicles make a lot of sense. Most sedans that seat four to five passengers are inevitably used as single-passenger cars. And the average commute isn't very long either, at 22 miles, according to Micro.
The Microlino aims to find the sweet spot and provide just the right amount of car without any waste. In that vein, the car offers enough space for two adults and up to 125 miles of range on a charge, though that's with an optional battery pack. The base model has a range of 77 miles with a top speed of 60 mph. It's really an ideal car for zipping around town, or through the narrow streets of a European city. We wouldn't want to find ourselves sandwiched between a bus and a Ford F-150 in one on the I405, frankly.
Because the Microlino is modeled after the Isetta, you enter through a front-opening door. It's supposed to feature enough cargo space to carry three beer crates — what else do you really need? But we'd recommend keeping the beer sealed and in the crate until you get home... that low to the ground, the cops will be able identify the color of your belt never mind spot you doing anything you shouldn't be.
The inside of the Microlino offers a similar no-frills experience. There's a digital display that shows the vehicle's speed, range, and battery status. But otherwise, there's not much else. There's not even an infotainment system — in its stead is a built-in holder to mount a smartphone or Bluetooth speaker.
Don't expect a stateside release — Micro hopes to receive approval for production in the European Union by August 2021, and begin production in September. The car is estimated to start at around €12,000 or about $14,550 USD.
We wouldn't expect this car to ever arrive stateside, since Americans love full-size SUVs and trucks now more than ever. Both Smart and Fiat gave up on trying to sell small cars in America, and some like Ford aren't even selling sedans any longer. Europeans are more accustomed to, and inclined to buy, small cars thanks to traditionally denser populations in urban areas with narrow streets. They're also less inclined to tying their self-worth to their engine output.