In the early fifties bubble cars were the dreamed solution towards ‘a car for everyone’. Today the electric bubble car could well be the solution to sustainable mobility. Bring on the Microlino.
Almost twenty years ago Wim Ouboter created the ideal solution for that last mile between public transport and the final urban destination. His Kickscooter, a foldable mini scooter, is a world wide success. His Swiss company Micro Mobility Systems is a forerunner in mobility solutions in detail. The newest concept in their portfolio, the Microlino, is the contemporary version of the classic bubble car. A report on an electrified Iso Isetta is what triggers Wim and his sons Oliver and Merlin to redesign the concept of the bubble car for use in the 21th century.
It is that same Isetta that offers the base for Micro Mobility Systems new concept. An existing (BMW) Isetta is transformed to full electric drive, to comprehensively test the possibilities of the concept and to get a grasp on the usability of a vehicle like this in modern everyday traffic. Together with the ZHAW university in Zürich and design studio Designwerk, the Ouboters develop a contemporary version of the original Isetta. 100% electric and ready to be deployed to solve the mobility issues of today.
In 1953 Italian refrigerator- and motorcycle manufacturers Iso Rivolta presents his Isetta. The car isn’t even 2,5 meter in length and offers ample space to two passengers seated side by side behind the large door that doubles as the front of the vehicle. The Isetta has four wheels, of which the rear ones are positioned very close to one another and are driven by a small 238 cc split cilinder engine based on that from the IsoMoto. In Italy the Isetta’s genius concept looses to the competition of Fiat’s 600 and 500 models, who are presented as being real motorcars. The Isetta gets a second chance by selling licenses to third parties like BMW. The latter manages to market the Isetta across Europe with considerable success.
The clever use of space of the Isetta is exactly what attracts the Swiss as a basis for their interpretation of contemporary urban mobility. Small, agile, easy to park and due to its feeble weight a very acceptable range compared to the small battery pack used. Small in size, small in environmental impact, but huge in usability, the Microlino is the dreamt of solution for urban commuters. In every day use a range of 120 to 215 km, depending on the chosen battery pack, a good 20 hp and a top speed of 90 km/h are fairly sufficient. Two adults and the equivalent of four crates of beer are easily stowed away inside this modern version of a fifties classic.
Exactly 65 years after the introduction of the original Iso Isetta, Micro Mobility Systems revealed its final version of the Microlino in January of this year. In close collaboration with the Italian firm Tazzari, that has been specialized in electric driven solutions for all kind of applications, the Microlino has outgrown the prototype stage. From this spring on the first of the almost five thousand orders will be delivered to the customers. The Microlino is ready for the next chapter in the history of the bubble car.
Marc GF Zaan