I love it
I remember having a ride in one very similar to this back in the early 60's and I was terrified! And I loved it! Mind you I was about 4 or 5 at the time...
One snag though. 3 crates of booze? If that is true the passenger can walk.
Supply chain woes continue to batter the tech industry but that didn't deter the makers of the diminutive Microlino from introducing a new electric vehicle amid a pandemic and chip shortage. We last looked at the Microlino in 2021, when the bubble-like electric car was shown off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Not that the …
If I was able to afford one and ship it to South Africa (RHD) I would do so...
...and making a plan with charging it. The model with the largest battery will allow me to shuttle for 4 days before charging, which suits me just fine.
Now... money's another issue... plus getting the required 'leccy.
>So how practical could it be to attach steering controls to the door?
Simple, been done - see https://www.dkfindout.com/uk/transport/history-cars/small-cars/
However, there are good reasons why bubble cars disappeared from our roads and are now museum exhibits ( https://www.bubblecarmuseum.co.uk/ ); parking and front end collisions being just two that come to mind.
Bubble cars disappeared - mainly - because people got richer and no longer needed cheap cars which could be driven on a motorbike licence. Even so, the last remaining one of those, the Reliant Regal, was selling 25,000 per year in the late 60s.
The Mini is also often quoted as a reason too. Same overall size as a bubble car, but fast, more comfortable and roomier.
I'm not sure what the parking issue was. Early ones had a handle on the back instead of reverse gears, but some, like the Bond Microcars, could be driven in reverse by rotating the engine and driven wheel through 180 degrees. Like Smart cars, the smaller bubble cars could be legally parked nose-in to the kerb, which made them very easy indeed to park.
My parking comment was as you note, parking as it is arranged now. Whilst it is smaller than a traditional car, space is needed to open that door, so no real benefits in kerb side parking. Also no savings in car parks - drive into a space and face the wall, reverse in and you need space to safely open that door.
As for front end collisions, unless the roof pops off, you'll need the fire brigade to cut you out - fingers crossed the batteries don't short....
Parking won't be an issue with these - they are DC powered so swap the polarity (simple change over switch) and hey presto you are going backwards (as fast as you can/dare go forwards I guess). Its not like its based on the infernal combustion engine like previous bulle vehicles where you had to rotate the motor so it went backwards or get out and lug it around (see other commnts)
At last someone is moving in the right direction, away from space-hogging two-tonne SUVs that need HUGE batteries, and towards light-weight space-efficient urban vehicles.
This would be a good companion to an electric bike (for local trips) for longer "to the next town" journeys. And handy for when it's very wet, too. I'd buy one in an instant, and quickly add a cello carrying rack to it!
The problem is modern car safety requirements, its a large part of why the BMW Mini couldn't be as small and fuel efficient as the original BMC Mini and other small cars got externally bigger over the years but didn't really change internally.
I think the design problem isn't so much to move "away from space-hogging two-tonne SUVs", but to start from somewhere else altogether.
I recently read an interesting research article that concluded that privately-owned e-scooters and e-bikes actually replaced cars or other high energy cost transport whereas for hire e-scooters and e-bikes tended to replace low energy transport ie. walking or cycling.
Personally, I think the OAP electric buggy has a lot of potential; although many things about the C5 were questionable I think Sinclair was on the right track, just way ahead of his time.
I think it's about practicality.
So I tended to use my car to visit clients & shop. E-bikes and scooters aren't ideal, but something with enough space for food shopping would be. Same for short commutes, and for longer journies, there should be public transport. And then maybe encouraging kids to walk or cycle to school to fix school run congestion.
If small car safety is solveable, parking gets more space efficient as well.
"And then maybe encouraging kids to walk or cycle to school to fix school run congestion."
Today's molly-coddled little brats WALK? Do you mean OUTSIDE‽ By THEMSELVES‽‽ Do you really think their air-headed, brainwashed-into-paranoia parents would ever agree to that? What colo(u)r is the sky on your planet? Have you never heard of all the terrorists, perverts and other ne'er do wells, waiting around every corner, post box and garden wall?
Next you'll be suggesting they go play outdoors without supervision! You want locking up, you do. You are a danger to yourself, the community, the city and the Nation!
>And then maybe encouraging kids to walk or cycle to school to fix school run congestion.
Do you know how difficult it is to get into a school that is within walking distance?
Years back we moved to a village with a primary school - could get our children into it, had to take them to the school ina village 20 minutes drive away.
As for secondary schools, these are all large out -of-town academies, because a few decades back it was remunerative to sell off city schools for development, build out-of-town and pay for 'cheap' transport...
@jake: heh, I have a dream!
I don't have any kids that I'm aware of, but there's a primary & secondary school near me that cause gridlock when parents are doing the school run. Plus fond memories of my own walking, then cycling to school. But I also used to do a 35 mile round trip to my grandparent's farm, or 25 miles to the nearest beach. Which may explain why I ended up as a prop for the school rugby team, then flanker for town & county. So I guess I benefited from being an active kid.
As for crashing, it's best avoided but similar to issues with side impacts. This car seems to have fewer choices for egress, but hopefully you could escape via front or side windows, or maybe a sun roof. Or perhaps fit quick release hinges and ejector seats.
Part of the safety regulations can be got around by removing a wheel. This qualifies the vehicle as a motorcycle.
What Microlino (and other old bubble cars) offers that the electric three wheelers don't is an enclosed cabin for trips in cold or rain.
Unfortunately, like many other European cars, I doubt it will make it to the states.
"I doubt it will make it to the states."
Some states will license UTVs for on-road use. The trick would be to keep these classified as motorcycles/UTVs, where safety is the consumers choice and concern. As automobiles, mommy government will step in and insist on the latest in protection technology to keep people from getting an owie.
>Part of the safety regulations can be got around by removing a wheel. This qualifies the vehicle as a motorcycle.
Take this to the next step and get the vehicle qualified as an e-bike/e-scooter/bicycle and then it can be driven without a licence and more importantly on the growing network of segregated "cycle lanes"...
This would have two benefits, it helps gets these small vehicles off roads where larger and faster vehicles are and secondly, they encourage the growing cycle network to be better designed and maintained ie. be fit for purpose. Which in turn will discourage pedestrians from the cycle way...
> The problem is modern car safety requirements,
Earlier safety requirements have resulted in large, heavy vehicles with vastly more kinetic energy to contribute to a crash, which in turn has resulted in more stringent safety requirements.
The simplest solution is not to legislate solely on passing a minimum crash test but to penalise vehicle mass. A road tax based on vehicle weight instead of engine capacity would do wonders.*
And we know this will be effective because 20-odd years ago the UK taxman changed the bands for fuel mileage reimbursements into <1400, 1401-2000 and >2000 cc bands. The result was that engine capacities magically became 2cc under the maximum and anything else (e.g. 1500s) simply disappeared.
* Yes batteries are heavy and so pure EV's will need their own classification but such a tax would have the effect of encouraging Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which would be much lighter than an equivalent EV and more useful to those without off-street parking.
We already have such a thing, indirectly. It's the tax on fuel. Drive a lighter car (all else being equal), it'll be more fuel efficient (as less dead mass to move) - cheaper motoring. Drive more sedately - same.
But for some reason people don't seem to prioritise MPG (or l/100km) when car shopping.
"We already have such a thing, indirectly. It's the tax on fuel. Drive a lighter car (all else being equal), it'll be more fuel efficient (as less dead mass to move) - cheaper motoring. Drive more sedately - same."
In the UK, that's not the case (yet!) in terms of EVs. Being zero emission at point of use (excluding tyre wear), they are taxed at the minimum level. Whether it's a 2T SUV or a microcar.
At some stage, that will have to change. I suspect though, that the change will be Pay Per Mile rather than a scale of VED charges based on weight/efficiency. It'll be difficult to charge based on electricity usage since many will charge at home. Smaller cars being able to charge overnight off the house ringmain/standard 13A socket and not via a special charger will be impossible to monitor for "fuel duty".
Successive governments of all colours have been kicking Pay Per Mile around for years now.
"We already have such a thing, indirectly. It's the tax on fuel. Drive a lighter car (all else being equal), it'll be more fuel efficient (as less dead mass to move)
> In the UK, that's not the case (yet!)
I think you'll find that the laws of physics work in the UK just as effectively as in any other country!
I think you'll find Boris has legislated against that. We now use Great British Laws of Physics, not those puny ones previously imposed on us by the EU!!
I was, of course, referring to "fuel duty" specifically charged on fuel used for cars, buses etc. With EVs, yes, a heavier car will use more "fuel", but that can't be taxed at higher rates just for cars, it can only be taxed with the usual VAT and "green taxes" we all pay for all electricity usage.
"Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which would be much lighter than an equivalent EV and more useful to those without off-street parking."
And a likely fire (or worse) hazard to those of us who park in garages. Unless you have a fool-proof way of containing hydrogen for weeks at a time, of course.
Hydrogen isn't that bad. Sure, it loves to escape, and there are risks from having high pressure fuel cylinders. But a few years ago, I thought about building a hydrogen yacht. So fuel cells for propulsion and H2 for cooking. Regular gas can be very dangerous due to it's density and pooling, but H2 does the opposite, and would vent more easily.
There's also been some accidents with H2 fuelled cars. One I remember happened during fuelling. For some reason, there was a leak and ignition. But result was a very short fire, car didn't burn, and the driver escaped with mild flash burns.
True. People will do literally anything to avoid tax.
I watched a seemingly intelligent friend in the past, who was Self-employed high earner, decided to leave the prestige car he *bought and paid for* at home, and take a taxi for work to visit clients.
Because the government had reduced the mileage allowance rate, and he “refused to allow the government to steal from me by underpaying for use of my asset”. So instead, he paid more from his own pocket for the taxi fare, but “at least he could claim back the tax as a business expense at the true rate”.
He still kept his prestige car, mind. Just for personal use at weekends only, sitting on the driveway depreciating the rest of the time.
People are insane.
In the Good Old Days of decent bank interest rates, I watched literally every one of my seemingly intelligent friends switch their savings from 4% bank accounts (net 2.4% after higher rate tax) to 2% ISAs tax free. They were prepared to actively spend time implementing a change which lost them money, just in order to transfer money away from the government
A three wheeler only need the driver to hold a motorcycle licence and as others have mentioned, construction guidance allows for smaller and lighter build due to different safety standards. It's a slightly cheaper option and a little more accessible. I do, however, see your point. This is just that little bit more niche than the SmartCar.
Electra Mechanicca Solo
Daymak Spiritus (affectionately known as the fastest gaming mouse on the planet)
Just 4 other companies making smart little electric cars for city driving.
The Solo is the only one currently in production, Aptera production is starting this year, Daymak have more than 20 years history in e-bikes and mobility aids and are hoping to kick into production next year, and poor Nobe suffered a factory fire which wiped out 2 of their 3 prototypes.
Because urban != London.
I agree that this makes no sense in London, but there are plenty of towns where there is no reasonable public transport option for many people - and it is much more pleasant to be enclosed when it's raining.
I'd really like to have the time and money to put together a velomobile with decent battery assistance - they are incredibly efficient vehicles, and starting from a velo rather than a car (even a bubble car) is going to end up with a more efficient vehicle - and they have kept up with modern materials and methods, so there is less to change anyway.
The issue is deciding what version of registration etc you want to go for - I think I'd target the quadricycle/tricycle legislation to really keep weight down, but allow (effectively) unlimited electrical power, and not require a motorbike helmet.
Here in California, when it rains I make a point to get out on one of the bikes (usually an aging Bultaco, sometimes the Rokon). Gotta make sure the creeks aren't rising and the fences are still there! :-)
Sometimes I take a horse, but most of them don't like riding in the rain as much as I do.
Thus the term "mudroom" ...
My car commute takes me on average 25 minutes each way, and allows me to stop off at supermarkets etc. on the way home.
Using public transport and walking would take about 2 hours each way and involve 2 trains and a bus that only runs every hour if I was lucky, or would involve a taxi between final rail station and work each way.
Edge case perhaps since I live on city outskirts and work is in the sticks a bit but sure there are many others with similar issues.
I'll keep my car thank you very much.
I would be happy to get something like this as an additional car if my wife actually drove and could make use of our current family car but that's not going to happen. No point having 2 cars just for me.
BEV or Hybrid equivalent to my current pretty modest car would be around £30,000.
I couldn't afford that even before the current high inflation etc. Not actually sure what I'm going to do when this one dies, hopefully prices will have come down a lot.
And before somebody says why don't you just move closer to work I was a lot closer 3 redundancies ago but events dear boy, events.
25 minutes... when my commute was last that by car (from a town across rural roads to the edge of another city) I started cycling.
It took about 6 months to get reasonably fit, and in that time the journey time dropped from ~55 minutes to ~30, barely more than my car driving colleagues (one of whom lived in the same town I did).
It's not an option for everyone, but it did allow us to drop to being a one car family, which has worked very nicely. cars are expensive things to run.
I have a bike, i cycle to work most days. Its a little over half an hour and 13km each way. In the winter months when it is dark on both journeys, often very cold and wet, sometimes at the same time, i occasionally choose to drive. Due to having to take a slightly less direct route (one way systems, no bike paths) this also takes about half an hour.
If i wanted to change that to a public transport journey, i have a couple of options,
i could walk 20 minutes, to get a bus for half an hour to the next town, to then get another bus for 20 minutes to the town in which i work, and walk 10-15 mins from the bus stop to the office. Not really an option when the reason i'm not on my bike is because it is cold and /or wet.
or, i could walk 20 minutes to the train station (next to the bus stop), get a train for 20 minutes (ish, im not certain, but it would be towards london), then another train (10-15mins) back out of london to get to the train station 'near' work and then a half hour or so walk from the station to the office.
Both of these options require more journey time each way, than i currently have both ways. Not to mention the cost of getting a train in and out of london twice a day.
For context, i live in a reasonably sized town south west of london. I fully expect for others that don't, this would be even less practical.
"get a train for 20 minutes (ish, im not certain, but it would be towards london), then another train (10-15mins) back out of london to get to the train station 'near' work"
That's probably the most salient point of your post. Most public transport is arranged on the assumption that people want to travel from the suburbs to the city centre. For many, many people, that's no longer the case, especially this last couple of years! Most people live out of the city centre and many of the jobs have, for years, been moving from the city centres to out of town shopping centres, business parks and industrial estates. We need buses etc that travel around the the towns as well. And I don't mean the "slow" buses that combine about 6 different routes in a single journey travelling through every housing estate. Neither the bus companies nor the local transport authorities seem to get this. If asked about it, they say there's no demand. How do they know? Because no one uses those non-existent routes of course!
>>Why on Earth do we need a car (even a tiny one) for short urban journeys?
I need a car like this for my 16 mile commute in the valleys of South Wales. no cross valley public transport to speak of, just enough room for a modest shop on the way home (and I can always use the passenger seat). Perfect range for almost a week of charge free commute. I even have a drive on which I can park to charge it at night.
Only disadvantage is filling it up with water when opening the door in the rain (yup - if it isn't raining now it will be now in a minute and, once the weather has got its eye in, it will be raining for 8-12 hours)
The Microlino costs € 12,500 and is classed as a heavy quadricycle (L7e).
Top speed of 90km/h, range 230km.
In France: you can drive unaccompanied at age 18 with a full B licence.
In Italy: you can drive unaccompanied at age 16 with a B1 licence, if the vehicle is speed-limited to 80km/h (50mph).
The Citroen Ami costs € 6,000 and is classed as a light quadricycle (L6e).
Top speed of 45km/h, range 70km.
In both France and Italy, you can drive unaccompanied at age 14 with just an AM licence. This is roughly equivalent to the motorcycle CBT in the UK: no theory test, just a one-day training course.
If you live on the continent and have (or are) a teenager who needs to attend college in the next town over, both of these are preferable to taking the bus.
Battery swaps are not that practical. BBQ gas tanks are cheap and owned by the supplier (Calor etc.) who fills and distribute them and collect the empties. They are responsible for them being sold full and their weight can confirm this. Batteries would be expensive and recharged by the retailer. Fakes would find their way into the chain that reported to be genuine and fully charged but only get you five miles down the road before they were empty. The stranded motorist would blame the garage who would blame the motorist that brought it in, who would blame the garage they got it from. Anyone with any sense would avoid it like the plague and those without sense would end up with a piece of counterfeit junk instead of thousands of pounds of battery.
"BBQ gas tanks are cheap and owned by the supplier"
I own my own tanks. Getting them filled is no more difficult (and takes no more time) than filling up my gas(petrol) tank ... except here in California, I can pump my own gas but it require a specially trained attendant (read: local highschooler on minimum wage) to dispense propane.
Interesting difference between UK and US. In the UK the predominant supplier of BBQ gas is Calor. The agreement that you have to sign in the UK before getting a bottle (not a refill swap) says Calor Gas cylinders remain at all times the property of Calor Gas Limited ("CALOR") There are other brands in the UK but I believe they all work the same way. It makes it a pain if you want to dispose of an old empty cylinder for one of the odd brands as the local tip will likely refuse to take it and tell you it's not yours to dispose of. I had one dumped on me that took years to find a place to return it to.
>Battery swaps are not that practical.
There is also the small issue of getting the battery in and out of the car.
Looking at the Microlino, it will require a significant redesign to permit the battery to be "dropped out" with no heavy lifting required by the owner - plus the battery pack would need to be in the form of a rolling suitcase so someone could take it home. Not sure what the battery weight is, but given how people struggle with the circa 25kg airline luggage weight limit...
You're assuming a monolithic battery - but I like the idea of it being on wheels (less so for people in flats).
Call LiIon 200Wh/kg, that's 5kg per four miles or 25kg for an average UK daily mileage - maybe have two 12.5kg batteries - maybe have them clip together if you can carry both.
"Anyone with any sense would avoid it like the plague and those without sense would end up with a piece of counterfeit junk instead of thousands of pounds of battery."
Clearly the solution to that is BlockChain Batteries! Not only do you know it's a "real" one, it comes with a built-in history of use (and abuse), so the price can be scalable to the condition it's in :-)
I love the idea of the Microlino, it's right in the sweetspot of price and range for me, I could drive to work and back for a whole week, then leave it to charge over the weekend.
The Mini E would be fine except the 120 mile range isn't quite a week's worth of commuting, and it's astonishingly expensive
I think it's because the Mini E weighs about the same as a small building. When I checked it's about 150kg heavier than my Cooper SD.
I have no way to install a fast charger at home, so a Mini E would take a whole weekend to charge.
Living rurally there's not a whole heap of charging points available either...
Back when I could still see to drive, I encountered an enclosed, two passenger, pick-up-style with tonneau cover, electric golf cart at my local Costco big box store. It cost a whopping $5K which was too rich for me at the time, but I did some back-of-the-envelope figuring & realized it would be perfect for my needs.
A top speed barely faster than a bicycle, a range of about ~100 miles, could be charged at home & at work, and even given the cost of then-current (sorry, pun not intended) battery tech, I'd still come out ahead in the long run.
Then my then-wife got preggers & that idea went right out the window. Kind of difficult to mount a baby seat in the back of a pick-up-truck bed. =-j
If I could still see to drive, I'd want something similar. Enclosed, two passenger, plus the open bed for groceries. Give it swappable batteries to "fast charge" it at most auto parts stores or gas stations, and it would make life so much easier.
But then they remind me that I'm blind, "driving by braille" is not a sanctioned form of transportation, & refuse to let me hire a seeing eye dog to be my chauffer. =-)p
"Kind of difficult to mount a baby seat in the back of a pick-up-truck bed."
It's quite easy, actually. Government regulations, on the other hand ...
Remember the rear seats, sans seatbelts, in 1960s station wagons? With the middle-seats flipped down, and the rear window buzzed all the way down? Heaven for a kid on a long road-trip!
With typical speed limits of 70 mph (approximately 110 kph) and drivers typically going above 135 kph, I wouldn't take it anywhere near an interstate. Perhaps as a way to get around city streets it is OK, but not as a serious mode of transportation.
If they've got a queue of purchase orders, what I'd like to see is a breakdown of the types of people buying them.
A chunk will be golf courses, another will be toffs buying for their groundkeeper. You'll have a bunch of nerds.
It isn't likely to be the likes of my parents because nobody has hardly heard of them (the manufacturer, not my parents :-P )
The article says 143 miles range only ok for local. I have had a Nissan Leaf with a range of 155 miles for over 3 years now and last summer holidayed on the Isle of Wight which included a 320 mile drive from North Cumbria to Southampton. No problem, there are over 18,000 charging locations which is more than there are petrol stations, with over 48,000 connectors. Source: zap-map.com. Sure I have to stop a little longer to charge, but its not a problem, I only have a 120 mile bladder.