Microlino shrinks for teens - quirky EV now available to 14-year-olds

Max McDee, 27 February 2024

Remember the Isetta bubble cars of the 1950s? The ones that looked like oversized eggs zipping around tiny European streets? Well, they’re back in a fully electric, 21st-century incarnation, and get this – even a kid can drive this one.

Meet the Microlino Lite from the Swiss company known simply as Micro. This diminutive machine ditches the usual car look, instead opting for a charmingly bulbous design that makes it stand out from the traffic – and possibly inspire a few chuckles. But beneath that quirky shell lies some surprisingly sensible engineering.

Microlino shrinks for teens - quirky EV now available to 14-year-olds

Now, let's get realistic, this ain't your grandpa's hot rod. The Microlino Lite is deliberately slow. To meet European regulations, its top speed barely breaks 28 mph. The company boasts of 12 terrifying horsepower, so don't expect drag strip dominance here.

But what's the point, you ask? Simple – making the Microlino Lite accessible to teens. All over Europe, 14-year-olds itching to ditch their bicycles and mopeds for something a bit safer can jump behind the wheel of this little EV, all they need is a simple moped license.

Size-wise, think super compact. Imagine squeezing three of these puppies into a single standard parking space. That's the Microlino Lite's appeal – it's the perfect city runabout, dodging congestion and squeezing into spots no normal car would dare. And with a curb weight of less than 1,323 lb, it'll sip electricity rather than guzzle it.

Microlino shrinks for teens - quirky EV now available to 14-year-olds

Despite the limitations, you get some decent kit with the Lite. Its steel body construction is reassuringly solid, and the base 5.5 kWh battery claims 62 miles of range. There's even a larger 11 kWh option promising almost double that. It's surprisingly practical, too, with a 8.1 ft³ trunk, and check this out – a sunroof for those sunny days. Color options seem limited to 'Venice Blue' or 'Berlin Anthracite' – but they fit the car's personality.

So, what's the catch? Well, the price is a bit heftier than the super-budget Citroen Ami that's a prime competitor. The Microlino Lite will cost around €156 a month – still cheaper than a fancy e-bike, but not exactly pocket change. For those who wish to splash out and buy this tiny electric nugget, the price stands at a smidgen under $19,300 - hardly a budget-friendly solution for 14-year-olds.

All joking aside - teenagers are hardly a serious market for the Microlino Lite. The “no licence” market in Europe is surprisingly booming. It’s not exactly no licence - either a moped licence is required, or in some instance a permit issued by a local police station. There are over half a million of L6e (that’s motorized quadricicle category) drivers in Europe alone, with the global market expected to grow to be worth over $2 billion by 2029.

Microlino shrinks for teens - quirky EV now available to 14-year-olds

The Microlino Lite is undeniably a niche product. It won't replace the family car, but for city dwellers frustrated by parking woes, it could be surprisingly tempting. If you’re looking for something quirky, efficient, and easier to drive than an electric scooter, this reborn bubble car might be worth a second glance just for the novelty factor.

Yes, you could buy two Citroen Ami for one Microlino Lite but Micro is not about filling the cheap EV market gap. Just like its full-fat 16 hp cousin Microlino - which by the way sells for as much as $25,800 - it wants the style-conscious customer who’s not bothered about details such as price. Judging by the 30,000 reservations and 100 vehicles per week production rate, the company behind Microlino will be very busy for years to come.


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