Size Small: Rise of the (micro) machines

In the lottery that has been the last couple of years, your author definitely did not have ‘return of microcars’ on his 2020/2021 bingo card. And yet, here we are.

Microcars were extremely popular in post-war Europe for an abundance of reasons, not the least of which was a relative scarcity of building materials and, well, money. There was, of course, still the need to get about. This required the population, fuelled by equal amounts of engineering might and creativity, to build a new class of automobiles that would eventually be known as microcars.

They’re experiencing something of a resurgence today; whether that’s due to necessity as a result of urban living and congestion charges or simply gimlet-eyed traders looking to cash in on nostalgia is up for some debate. Still, there’s enough of the things in various stages of engineering that it’s definitely worth some of our digital ink.

Nobe 100GT

Described by its makers as a ‘happy lifestyle car’, this machine almost looks as if someone pasted a vintage Alfa Romeo face onto an old three-wheeled Peel P50. Nobe claims a goal of creating the first 1000lb car that seats three people, an ambitious goal in a world where even the diminutive Mitsubishi Mirage weighs well over twice that sum.

It is planned to make the Nobe available in a couple of different flavours, including the entry-level model featuring a 25kWh battery pack and a range of about 250 kilometres. Plans call for a top speed north of 120 km/h and maximum power of about 100 horses. If you think the Nobe looks an awful lot like a Fusion Flea microcar from the Fallout 4 video game, especially from a top-down plan view, you’re not alone.

ElectraMeccanica Solo


How many people can ride in an ElectraMeccanica Solo microcar? Well, the answer is right there in its name. With an all-electric range of 160 kilometres, the Solo promises HOV lane access in bigger cities though your author would not want to face down the business end of a full-size SUV in this thing. Its front fascia recalls a four-fifths-scale Acura while the rear lamps look for all the world like modern Alfa Romeo units.

This single occupant vehicle has a cargo area accessible by a hatchback-style trunk, into which people are shown stuffing shopping bags and various groceries. This paints the Solo as an urban runabout, which is probably a good description. Like others on this list, ElectraMeccanica has chosen a three wheel design, with twin hoops up front and a single tire along for the ride astern.

Messerschmitt-Werke KR202 / KR-E


This name will be equally familiar to students of World War II and disciples of the microcar movement. Post-war, the company decided to begin making three-wheeled enclosed scooters, since the demand for lethal fighter planes had understandably evaporated. This time around, there will be a choice of powertrains – one gasoline, one electric.

The gasser will be a teacup-sized 123cc mill making 7.3 horsepower (the .3 is very important at this end of the power scale). It’ll deploy a continuously variable transmission which is typical on European scooters. On the electric side of the table, one will find a 6.7hp electric motor paired with a 1.4kWh battery. This combination is said to provide 80 kilometres of range. Buyers can select a warplane-style roof entry system or a cut down windshield for that bugs-in-yer-teeth feeling.

SC Carts NXT City

Produced by a Canadian company headquartered in British Columbia, the machine you see here was actually the country’s first street-legal low speed vehicle. No, your grandfather’s Plymouth that perpetually putters around town at 20 km/h under the limit does not technically qualify as a low speed vehicle. In this instance, it refers to a rig with 90km of range and a top speed of 40 km/h.

SC Carts has been making its own vehicles for almost five years and received street approval in 2019. The NXT City is available in three variations: two- or four-doors plus a neat utility vehicle with an open cargo bed. Each variant is powered by a lithium-ion battery and a 60v/4kW drive system. Weight when empty is in the ballpark of 900lbs. Prices start at $19,995.



If there was ever a car whose front visage looked for all the world like Sid from the Ice Age movies, it’s the Microlino. This endearing trait is backed up by an entry system identical to that of the old BMW Isetta, meaning drivers shouldn’t park its front bumper too close to a wall lest they be trapped aboard the thing. There’s space for two adults, the builders say, plus ‘three beer crates’. That’s an interesting unit of measure.

A brace of battery options provide a driving range of either 125km or 200km, though both variants are limited to 90 km/h. Horsepower? About 15 (or 11kW, to be precise). Still, its lightweight construction allegedly permits a run from 0 – 50 km/h in about five seconds, though it isn’t specified if that’s with or without the beer crates.


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