Will Americans Buy This Tiny, Cute Electric Car?

Will Americans Buy This Tiny, Cute Electric Car?

The U.S. is known, rightly so, as the land of big-ass gas guzzlers. One ambitious European company hopes to sell Americans on just the opposite, and to do so, it’s running a design playbook that evokes the adorably classic BMW Isetta.  

Swiss manufacturer Micro on Monday revealed the Microlino Lite, a quirky, tiny and cartoonishly adorable electric car that the typical American pickup truck could eat for breakfast. And yet, Micro hopes to introduce the vehicle to U.S. streets by the end of this year, a company spokesperson told The Verge. 

Can a wholly un-American city car help wean U.S. drivers off of oversized, inefficient SUVs and trucks? That would certainly be terrific as far as our worsening climate crisis is concerned. Plus, I’d venture to guess that more people could get real use out of the Microlino Lite than they think. 

Gallery: Microlino Lite

But conquering a country whose best-seller has been the Ford F-Series pickup for four decades running will be a challenge, to say the least. 

A little about the Microlino Lite: It has a top speed of 45 kilometers per hour (28 mph) and produces 12 peak horsepower. Micro claims a base range of 62 miles, but that can be increased to 112 for buyers who select a larger battery pack. 

The Lite accepts a Level 2 charge and can be topped up from 0-80% in two or four hours, Micro says, depending on whether we’re talking about the smaller or larger battery. 

The vehicle has two seats, a small storage area and an ultra-basic cockpit with a few buttons and one screen facing the driver. It’s 95 inches long. For reference, that’s nearly a foot shorter than a Smart Car. And like the classic Isetta—born in Italy, and later made by BMW—the main door is upfront and swings out for you to step inside. 

Here’s the kicker: It’s super cheap. In Switzerland, the Microlino Lite will start leasing for the equivalent of $169 per month this summer. Recharging it shouldn’t cost much either, since you don’t need much electricity to propel such a small vehicle. 

The Microlino Lite is a slower version of the Microlino, which is already on sale in Europe. That means it can be driven by teenagers and folks without driver’s licenses in some countries. In the U.S., it meets the requirements to be classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV), a spokesperson told The Verge. 

Micro Microlino Lite

NEVs are capped at 25 mph and can travel on roads with speed limits not exceeding 35 mph. There are a handful to choose from in the U.S. already, but, dare I say, none are as cute as the Microlino.  

Some 60 miles of range and a low top speed sounds ridiculous at first, but I’d bet the Microlino Lite could work well for lots of American households. Imagine it as a family’s second car for quick trips around town. Or as someone’s primary vehicle in a dense city, where driving long distances isn’t really a thing. Remember: Americans drive less than 40 miles per day on average, and many of their trips are just a few miles long. 

Now that I think about it, I could’ve used a Microlino for several trips I’ve taken in the last few weeks using my five-seat SUV. Grabbing a few groceries from a store that’s just too far away to bike to or picking up my wife when it’s too rainy for her typical 30-minute walk from grad school—those are both errands that an NEV could easily handle in a much more energy-efficient manner. 

2023 Microlino

People need to get places in cars. But in an ideal world, they’d do so while wasting as little extra energy as possible. That means not lugging around a few tons of extra metal when it isn’t necessary—and that’s where an NEV like the Microlino Lite shines. 

To be sure, small cars are not what Americans are buying right now. So the prospects are slim for the Microlino Lite to be a mega-hit. But interest in EVs is on the rise. And people are more aware than ever of the impending climate disaster that’s a direct consequence of humanity’s nasty habits. Plus, rising vehicle prices and high interest rates have car buyers stretched thinner than ever. 

So maybe NEVs have a future here if we SUV-craving Americans keep an open mind—and come to terms with looking a little silly. 

Contact the author: tim.levin@insideevs.com

With concerns about climate change and rising gas prices, the push for electric vehicles (EVs) has been gaining momentum in recent years. Automakers have been introducing a range of EVs to cater to the growing demand for cleaner and more sustainable modes of transportation. One such vehicle that has caught the attention of many is the tiny, cute electric car.

The tiny, cute electric car, also known as the micro EV, is a compact and stylish vehicle that offers all the benefits of an electric car in a smaller package. With its adorable design and eco-friendly features, it has quickly become a favorite among city dwellers and environmentally conscious consumers.

But the question remains: Will Americans buy this tiny, cute electric car?

There are several factors to consider when it comes to the adoption of micro EVs in the US market. One of the main concerns is range anxiety, as many Americans are used to driving long distances and may worry about running out of battery power before reaching their destination. However, with advances in battery technology and the expansion of charging infrastructure, range anxiety is becoming less of an issue for EV drivers.

Another factor that may influence the purchase of a tiny, cute electric car is pricing. While EVs are generally more expensive than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, the cost of ownership over time is lower due to lower maintenance and fuel costs. However, the initial sticker price of a micro EV may still be a deterrent for some consumers.

Despite these challenges, there is a growing interest in micro EVs among American consumers. The compact size of these vehicles makes them ideal for city driving and parking, and their cute and stylish design appeals to a younger demographic. Additionally, the environmental benefits of driving an electric car are becoming more important to many consumers, as they seek to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner and greener future.

In conclusion, while there may be some hurdles to overcome, there is a strong possibility that Americans will embrace the tiny, cute electric car. With the increasing awareness of the need for sustainable transportation options and the growing availability of EV models on the market, the future looks bright for micro EVs in the US. As technology continues to improve and consumer attitudes shift towards more eco-friendly alternatives, the tiny, cute electric car may soon become a common sight on American roads.