The Most Interesting New Car at the Geneva Motor Show Wasn't Actually New or Technically Even a Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
the most interesting new car at the geneva motor show wasnt actually new or

Micro Mobility Systems recently strayed from producing electric scooters to build what is essentially a modern-take on the Isetta microcar called the Microlino. The Swiss firm has been bringing its enclosed quadricycle to the Geneva Motor Show since 2016, although this was the first year we’ve bothered to mention it. However, they haven’t abandoned the platform. Instead they’ve persisted, gradually approaching a point where they actually might grace public roads with the Microlino’s dainty carbon footprint.

It’s really tempting to root for little autos like this one. In addition to being adorable, they seem like the perfect solution for city dwellers who sometimes find the very idea of the traditional automobile mildly contemptible. Claims that they take up too much space or are energy inefficient can be countered with vehicles like the Microlino. Unfortunately, the odds of us ever seeing it in North America are slim.

The gumdrop-shaped transport has room for two with storage in the back for smaller items. Entry is achieved by opening the vehicles’ face, just like the classic Isetta. Bent on being a green vehicle, the Microlino uses a tiny 8.0-kWh lithium-ion battery but is still capable of an impressive 75-mile range. Shoppers can also option a 14.4-kWh unit that expands its maximum travel distance to 134 miles — more than enough for routine city use.

Micro Mobility has said the vehicle yields a of top speed of 62 mph, which is theoretically enough to take it on the highway. Although, we’d wager range becomes a bit of an issue if you have to peg the throttle in order to keep up with slow traffic. It also probably wouldn’t hold up all that well in a high-speed crash (the prototype doesn’t have seat belts but the production unit should). That might not make it a good fit for American roads but it’s hard to condemn it for that, as that wasn’t what it was built for.

It’s for parallel parking in impossibly small spaces (or just pulling in directly) and bragging to the neighbors that you have the most energy efficient vehicle in the neighborhood. We’re entering into an era where high-end manufacturers are beginning to build six-figure battery-electric sport utility vehicles. These faux-green models are truly magnificent but they also betray the whole point of moving toward electrification in the first place. They aren’t hyper-efficient eco cars for the masses — but the Microlino is. You could own one of these babies and be as comfortably smug as a Prius owner from 2004.

It’s what the world claimed it wanted when this obsession with electrification began and it is cutesy and efficient enough for skeptics to buy into it. So why won’t it sell in America? Safety issues are the biggest hurdle to get around. While it wouldn’t be marketed as a car, it still might get hit with regulatory hurdles it couldn’t possibly overcome. Average American’s also have a more-than-mild aversion to microcars.

Pricing is also an issue. Micro Mobility has said it would probably cost at least €10,000 (or about $12,500). In the United States, you could could negotiate a Chevrolet Spark for that price. Still, the company has said it’s acquired several thousand preorders already. All it has to do now is avoid becoming the European equivalent of Elio Motors. Fortunately, things appear to be more-or-less on track for Micro Mobility and the company has said production of the goofy little non-car will begin later this year.

[Images: Micro Mobility Systems]

Join the conversation
2 of 32 comments
  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Mar 12, 2018

    Still too space-inefficient for everyone to use it in big cities. The only powered vehicle that really works in a city if you assume that everyone will use one is a scooter, moped, or very small motorcycle.

  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Mar 14, 2018

    Can't see how this could be marketed as a car legally, but hey, I like the idea :)

  • Jeff S Corey Lewis--GM designed those cars shortly after the 1978 oil crisis caused by a reduction in oil production in Iran and the eventual over throw of the Shah and the Iranian hostage crisis. GM anticipated gas would be $5 a gallon and up and that there would be shortages of oil. By the late 80s the supply of oil stabilized and gas and diesel prices stabilized. Ford didn't have the resources to completely redesign all their cars and except for the midsize, compact, and small cars that were front wheel drive and that is why Ford held onto the Panther platform for so long. GM just on the X car design and development spent 2.5 billion dollars and spent at least another billion on the C platform that was used on those 1985 full size front wheel drive cars.
  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.