Micro, the Swiss brand best known for creating the first foldable aluminium kick scooter in the 1990s, is gearing up to begin production of a compact urban EV inspired by the Isetta microcar.
Micro says that, on average, "a car is occupied by only 1.2 people and driven just 35km per day", meaning normal cars are "too big for 95% of their usage". The Microlino, it says, provides the "ideal mix" between motorbikes and cars. The two-seat Microlino has thus been developed to offer just the right amount of space, range and performance according to average usage statistics.
To that end, it provides enough space for "two adults and three beer crates", weighs just 513kg and is capable of a maximum speed of 90kph.
Despite its diminutive form, the Microlino allegedly offers a competitive range of either 78 miles - more than the similarly sized Renault Twizy - or 125 miles, depending on which of the two available battery packs is specified. Precise capacities have not yet been given, but Micro claims the car can be charged in as little as four hours from a domestic plug socket.
Like the Isetta from which it takes heavy styling influence, the Microlino features a front-opening door, meaning it can be parked nose-in and occupants can exit straight onto the pavement. However, the steering column, unlike the Isetta's, is fixed to the floor, rather than the door.
In keeping with its low price, the Microlino's cockpit is simple and minimalist, save for a digital display showing key information. Instead of an integrated sound system, the dashboard features a horizontal bar to which phones and wireless speakers can be mounted.
With preliminary prices set to start from around €12,000 (£10,450) in Europe, it is positioned to compete with the Citroën Ami One. It is also likely to be offered on urban car-sharing schemes in the same vein as Renault's new Mobilize EZ-1 two-seater. A UK launch has not yet been confirmed but is unlikely given the cost of adapting the low-volume car to right-hand drive.
The first prototype was completed in 2018, but the new Microlino 2.0 more closely resembles the final production vehicle. Where its predecessor had a simple tubular frame, the 2.0 is built around a pressed steel and aluminium monocoque for improved rigidity without a significant weight penalty, and the rear end is roughly 50% wider for improved stability.
Additional prototypes will follow from March, with the homologation process set to begin in June. Micro anticipates it will achieve EU type-approval in August before beginning series production in September.