BMW Isetta resurrected as Microlino EV

Will the Nth time be the charm?

The Isetta "Bubble Car" began its life in Italy in the 1950s with Iso, before eventually being licensed by BMW. Since then, the tiny Isetta has retained a fan base who love the car for its tiny footprint and unique design. In recent years, designers have toyed with the idea of updated versions of the Isetta. The latest take comes from a Swiss company that manufactures scooters and kickboards.

Micro Mobility Systems has reimagined the BMW Isetta as an electric vehicle. Called the Microlino, the diminutive EV is under development, but Micro brought a concept version to the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. The company barely managed to pull it off, as the prototype was damaged in a forklift incident not long before the show but was repaired just in the nick of time.

Technically, the Microlino isn't classified as a car, so it won't be subject to some of the more rigorous safety regulations, particularly crash tests. It's classified as an L7e motorized quadricycle, similar to the Renault Twizy. In fact, the Microlino's pedestal at the Geneva show loudly declared, "This is not a car!"

Micro began taking non-binding reservations for the first 500 Microlinos at the Geneva show, and found quite a bit of interest in their retro-chic EV. The car garnered 500 reservations in 13 days. For the rest of us, Micro has set up a waiting list.

So what are buyers getting into? The Microlino uses a 15-kW electric motor that can propel the car to a top speed of about 62 miles per hour, with a driving range of about 60 to 75 miles per charge. The first series production is expected in late 2017, with an estimated price range of about $9,000 to $13,500. That is, if this iSetta EV revival goes better than the last few times the idea was tossed around.

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