BY JAY RAMEY | CarAndDriver.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Cars
The Isetta-style microcar is getting ready to roll off the assembly line in Italy, after delays caused by the pandemic.
Microlino 2.0 production is slated to start in March 2022 in Turin, Italy, with the first deliveries expected in April or May.
The bubble car will go on sale in Switzerland first, before spreading to other western European markets.
With an estimated top range of 143 miles when equipped with a 14.0-kWh battery, the Microlino 2.0 could prove to be a popular alternative to other small EVs as well as scooters and e-bikes.
The bubble-shaped Microlino 2.0 is headed into production in a matter of weeks, despite delays and disruptions prompted by the pandemic. Micro Mobility Systems has revealed that production will begin in March 2022, following the model’s favorable debut at the Munich IAA Mobility show last fall.
The Isetta-styled EV, designed and engineered by a Swiss company, is slated to be produced in Turin, Italy, and to go on sale in Switzerland later this year before a wider rollout in Europe. The two-seater will feature a 25-hp engine drawing power from a choice of three batteries, offering 6.0-, 10.5-, and 14.0-kWh capacities, which are expected to be good for 60, 109, and 143 miles of range, respectively.
Micro Mobility Systems says that it is already producing pre-production examples for testing and process optimization, despite some component shortages. The company projects that the first customer examples will be delivered in April or May. The configurator is expected to go live in February, with the company reporting more than 24,000 reservations in fall 2021.
“Our goal was to deliver the first vehicles to customers within the end of the year , but the worldwide supply-chain chaos is affecting us like many other carmakers,” the company indicated. “Despite our preparations to order crucial parts way in advance, the situation has gotten much worse and is now affecting more and more parts. Now, even commodity parts like simple connectors for the wiring harness have become scarce and have lead times of up to 50 weeks!”
The company has shared short videos, including the prototype drive below and a clip revealing some of the production hardware for the Microlino, including a stamping press and assembly robots.
The bubble car won’t actually be classified as a car in the EU but rather as a quadricycle, allowing for more liberal licensing, but its 56-mph top speed will also keep it off the autoroutes. With a starting price of around $14,000, the Microlino 2.0 could be a popular alternative to other low-ranged EVs and electric scooters, as well as some actual electric cars with similar ranges.
For example, the longest-range 143-mile trim level could eclipse the ranges of some larger EVs like the Mini Cooper SE and the Mazda MX-30, but it will be far cheaper to purchase and use for in-town driving, while taking up far less parking space than even something relatively small, like a Volkswagen ID.3. These range numbers are unofficial for now, but given its modest power requirements, a small and light vehicle can stretch its range past larger EVs even with a smaller battery.
“The long-anticipated online configurator is almost ready and will be launched in February, with the first test drive events following soon afterwards,” the company added. “Apart from the three editions Urban, Dolce, and Competizione that we already unveiled, we will introduce the exclusive limited-edition for the first 500 Microlinos ever produced, called Pioneer Series.”
Micro Mobility Systems does not have plans to offer the Microlino 2.0 in the U.S. at the moment, and given the reception that small electric hatches have received, that may seem quite logical. The main constraint for its maker at the moment is production capacity in Turin, given the demand in Europe. It will be quite some time before the Microlino could be ready for other global markets, ones friendlier to small EVs, with the company prioritizing western Europe first.