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

As the automotive industry continues to veer towards eco-friendly solutions, the introduction ⁢of tiny,‌ cute electric⁣ cars may just be the next big thing. With the rising concerns over climate change and the ‌push towards sustainable living, electric cars are becoming increasingly popular among consumers. However, the question ⁣remains: Will Americans buy ⁣this tiny, cute electric car?

The concept of a tiny, cute electric car ‍may seem appealing to some, but ‌there are several factors that may influence American consumers’ willingness to purchase⁢ such a vehicle. One of the main considerations ‍is the practicality and functionality ‍of the car. While it may be adorable and environmentally friendly, consumers may question whether the small size of ⁤the car can accommodate​ their daily needs, such as transporting a family or carrying groceries.

Additionally, Americans are known⁤ for their love of big cars,⁢ with SUVs and trucks dominating the market.⁤ The cultural⁢ preference for larger ⁣vehicles may pose a challenge for the adoption of tiny electric cars. Consumers may feel that a small electric vehicle lacks the power and versatility of larger cars, deterring them from making the switch.

Another consideration⁢ is the infrastructure for electric vehicles. While the number of charging stations is increasing across the country, there ​is still a lack of widespread infrastructure to support electric cars.​ This may be a barrier for consumers who rely on long-distance travel or ⁤do not have access to charging ⁣stations in their area.

Despite these challenges, there is still a growing interest in electric cars in the‌ United States. The rise of ​electric car manufacturers such as Tesla has⁢ garnered attention and⁤ sparked‍ curiosity among consumers. The small, cute electric ⁤car may appeal to a niche market of eco-conscious consumers who⁣ prioritize sustainability and style.

Ultimately, the‍ success of‌ the tiny, cute electric car in the American market will depend ​on a variety of factors, including ‌practicality, consumer preferences, and infrastructure. While there may be obstacles to overcome, there is potential for these vehicles to gain traction⁣ and ‍become a viable option ‌for ⁣environmentally conscious ⁢consumers. Only time will tell‍ whether Americans will embrace this innovative and charming electric car.