The Original Microcar Is Reborn in China

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A Chinese car brand with the same name as a defunct American brand is building the spiritual successor to a famous BMW model that wasn’t really a BMW.

Eagle, a brand of China’s Suzhou Eagle, has begun production of the EG6330K — a model whose name rolls off the tongue like Thunderbird. If the diminutive little car looks familiar, it should.

According to Car News China (via Motor Authority), the Eagle EG6330K is a cheap, low-speed electric vehicle (LSEV) modeled after another cheap vehicle: the BMW Isetta, one of many near-identical postwar “bubble cars” built under license in Europe and Latin America, all based on a 1953 design by Italy’s Iso.

Actually, the four-door Eagle pictured above copies the design cues of the longer BMW 600, an Isetta-derived model built from 1957 to 1959. In this case, the Chinese vehicle adds four real doors, rather than the front-opening door and single side opening of the 600. Also gone is the Bimmer’s 582cc flat-twin engine. Instead, the EG6330K relies on a 72 kWh lead-acid battery fueling a brawny 5.3 horsepower electric motor.

Top speed of this little rig is about 37 miles per hour, and drivers can leisurely cruise for 75 miles before hauling out the extension cord.

Unlike in the U.S., where low-speed electric vehicles are the domain of golf courses, theme parks, retirement communities, and various outdoorsy municipal departments, China’s low-speed electric vehicle market is a boon for lower-income residents seeking affordable personal transportation. The market is also no stranger to direct knock-offs of existing or pre-existing models. If you walk around the back of this car, you’ll see fake cooling vents for the non-existent rear-mounted engine. (The electric motor and drive wheels are in the front.)

As far as Chinese copies go, this one impresses, if only for its level of cuteness. And no, you certainly can’t have one in America.

[Image: Suzhou Eagle Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Co.]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • TR4 TR4 on Feb 05, 2018

    Except the Isetta was not the original microcar. "Cyclecars" were quite popular in the 1910s and 1920s until affordable "real" cars like the Model T and Austin 7 came along. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclecar

  • Jeffzekas Jeffzekas on Feb 05, 2018

    Another Chinese rip off? The Swiss announced THEIR electric Isetta a few years ago, but the Chinese beat them? Guess we shouldn't be surprised.

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 06, 2018

      jeff, Anything retro is some kind of ripoff. The design ques had to come from somewhere, look at the PT Cruiser.

  • Kcflyer This is a joke right? Kevin James invented this in a movie years ago. As I recall queen latifa loved it. The movie was called "The Dilemma". It was even a dodge. Life imitates art indeed.
  • RHD This is the modern equivalent of the Horsey Horseless. (If you don't know what that was, look it up!)
  • Loser What’s next, simulation of the “Hemi tick”?
  • Ajla There's a melancholy to me about an EV with external speaker-generated "engine" noise and fake transmissions. It feels like an admission from the manufacturer that you're giving something up and they are trying to give back some facsimile of it. Like giving a cupcake scented candle to someone on a diet. If I was shopping for an EV I'd rather go to a company enthusiastic about it rather than apologetic.
  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
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