The Original Microcar Is Reborn in China

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the original microcar is reborn in china

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.]

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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.

  • 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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Ford is near #1 in recalls in North America. Another numb-nut in the C-Suite is an attempt to avoid responsibility.Instead of spending money on another layer of mis-management, how about spending the money on the vehicles!!"STOP THE HURT""STOP THE PAIN""I DON"T WANT MY CAR SPENDING MORE TIME AT THE DEALERSHIP AGAIN"
  • Another So the United States invaded and killed Kaddaffi just so Fiat could buy Chrysler. And now Peugeot is buying out Fiat. Soon will China buy out Peugeot? Did the US not care about their critical industry that they willingly give it away even if a nice neat little war is needed to do so?
  • Dale Houston At home on a Level 2 charger. Charging at home is EVs secret weapon, for those who can charge at home. I still have to visit a gas staton roughly monthly for one or the other of our Mazdas and that process sucks.I have not used a Supercharger in over a year, but will this summer when I am taking a road trip. It's been fine, but slower than pumping gas. Best to time it with meals.I have not used an off-brand commercial charger yet.
  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)