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It's Electric! Blast from the Past

Going electric with classics gets easy with conversions by Fuel2Electric participants or find one being reborn like the Microlino Deutschland "Isetta" with Jens Meiners!

Jens writes "The city car is dead. While never particularly popular in the U.S., cars like the original Mini, the Fiat 500, and the Smart were successful all over the globe. But aggressive safety rules and electrification have made them bigger and heavier: The latest Smart is almost 170 inches long and weighs over 4000 pounds.

Now there is a new player in the market, focused on Europe, but with a few orders already placed from the U.S.: the Microlino, a thoroughly modern take on BMW's famous Isetta. That midcentury bubble car had entirely disappeared from European roads by the 1970s, but its design—you enter through the front—continues to bring a smile to the face of anyone who happens upon one. Fewer than 90 inches long and powered by a wheezing two-stroke engine, the Isetta is hopelessly unsafe and outdated. But Swiss inventor Wim Ouboter saw the opportunity to reimagine it as an electric car—or, rather, a quadricycle, because it would hardly be able to conform to the regulatory standards that an automobile must meet.

The industry has toyed with reinventing city cars as quadricycles for over a decade. At the 2011 Frankfurt auto show, Audi launched the Urban Concept, VW showed the NILS, and Opel the Rak-e; Renault had earlier shown its Twizy. All were electric and designed as L7e "heavy quadricycles"—and, with the exception of the Twizy, all of them were subsequently buried. But with regular cars becoming so big and expensive, Stellantis recently joined the game with the Citroën Ami and Opel Rocks-e, both of which are only available as smaller L6e "light quadricycle" models. They are easy to park and practical, but too slow for a lot of city traffic and not allowed on motorways.

The Microlino aims to pick up where premium concepts like the NILS and the Rak-e left off. With a length of 99.2 inches and a width of 58.0 inches, it's slightly smaller than the Smart Fortwo the States first got in 2008. But the Microlino is a different animal. While the Smart was a sturdy and safe car, capable of reaching nearly 100 mph and subjected to rigorous crash tests, the Microlino is just a quadricycle; regulation is far more lenient.

The Microlino brings a lot of sophistication in the realm of styling. Made of steel and aluminum, it perfectly translates the motif of the original Isetta into the modern age. The proportions are captured accurately, the surface treatment is clean, and details such as LED lighting are decidedly futuristic. The front door opens with an electric switch, is pulled closed with a strap, and locked electrically. Once inside, there is room for driver and passenger, snug but not cramped. Above your head, there's a fabric top; perfectly executed by supplier Magna CTS, it is one of the best-engineered and highest-quality parts of this vehicle. The trunk is surprisingly large at 8.1 cubic feet."

Full story here and credit!

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