What’s the best micro EVs for city driving? Read on…
Electric vehicles are evolving not only to be a direct replacement for cars; many car makers are trying to encourage us to re-evaluate how we get around. Urban mobility is an increasingly important part of this, so we’ve taken a look at what two-seater EVs are available, and what’s to come.
Jump to:Citroën AMI One Renault Twizy smart EQ ForTwo Microlino e.GO Life Toyota C+ Pod Uniti One MeV Bee
Don’t be put off by terrible memories of abominations like the G-Whizz. Modern two-seater EVs are more advanced and usable in everyday driving. They’re also properly crash tested so your legs and face isn’t the crumple zone. We really like the idea behind micro EVs for getting around towns and cities so here are some of the best.
Citroën AMI One
Revealed at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, the AMI One is classed as a quadracycle so in France a 14-year-old could legally drive it. Over here, one of these could legitimately be driven by a 16-year-old but don’t let that worry you; the AMI One is tiny and not exactly fast! At 2.41m long and 1.39m high its small footprint makes it perfect for zipping around town with two aboard. The 5.5kWh battery enables it to travel 43 miles at up to 28mph and takes less than two hours to charge, even from a regular three-pin socket.
We drove it in Coventry and despite feeling a little vulnerable on roads that exceeded the 30mph limit we reckon it could be a cheap, utilitarian way of making clean urban motoring affordable to the masses. On the continent it can accessed via a subscription service or bought for 6000 euros. Availability in the UK is TBC.
The Renault Twizy was ahead of its time. Launched in 2012 to immediate success, it was the biggest selling plug-in car that year – shifting 9015 units, which is a laughably small number and shows how far we’ve come in accepting EVs. The Twizy is interesting in its layout, with the driver sitting ahead of the passenger. Doors and weather protection are optional.
However, the Twizy is a proper little commuter, capable of 50mph and 62 miles on a charge (which takes 3.5 hours on a three-pin). Available from under £12k or through a car sharing scheme, it is one of the original urban EVs and still one of the best today.
smart EQ ForTwo
smart was one of the first brands to go EV-only – a move that made sense for a brand with a range consisting of two small, urban-orientated cars. The EQ ForTwo is the smaller of the two models and has – perhaps unsurprisingly – room for two, hence its inclusion on this list. It’s small at 2.69m long and has a 17.6kWh battery enabling it to travel up to 80 miles on a charge at up to 81mph thanks to an 80hp motor. In other words, it goes like a normal car. You can even get it as a cabriolet.
The biggest issue for the smart is the price. Starting at around £15k makes it very expensive for a tiny car with a short range – despite the decent levels of kit it gets as standard. Its bigger brother, the ForFour, shares a lot with the ForTwo, so it’s worth checking out our review.
If you’re after something completely off the wall, or have a penchant for the classic BMW Isetta bubble car, the Microlino from Swiss firm Micro is the car for you. Set to go on sale this year, it is designed to fulfil the needs of a city dweller with the brand’s research suggesting most cars carry 1.2 people and travel less than 20 miles per day on average. To this end, the Microlino has two seats and with the larger of two battery options, has a range of 125 miles – good for six-and-a-bit days of travel. A smaller battery offers 78 miles.
Micro has form in creating electric mobility solutions having pioneered electric scooters and since moving on to electric three-wheeled mopeds. The Microlino is the next logical step and, pending type approval, will go on sale for around £10,500 later this year.
Another entry from mainland Europe, the e.GO Life hails from Germany and has sold in small numbers already. It has been built in 20, 40 and 60 form, with batteries at 14.5kWh for the 20, 17.5kWh for the 40 and 23.5kWh for the 60. The driving range starts at 62 miles and maxes out at 90 with the highest spec car able to reach 88mph. Like the smart EQ ForTwo, the e.Go Life isn’t cheap, starting at £13,790 and increasing to £17,260.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for the two-seater urban EV. e.Go was saved from insolvency by a Dutch investment group in the autumn last year after an already bumpy start. This does mean that production, sales and servicing is on again, though.
Toyota C+ Pod
Toyota’s first pure EV is a good demonstration of where Toyota’s collective head is at when it comes to electrification: they still see EVs as a bit of a curio. The C+ Pod is destined to be sold only in Japan and is designed as a ‘mobility option’ for short urban journeys. Among its first customers will be government bodies.
It’s very similar to the AMI One in size measuring 2.5m long, 1.3m wide and 1.5m tall, but gets a meatier 12bhp to push it along at speeds of up to 37mph. The 9.06kWh battery pack enables it travel a useful 93 miles on a charge with two on board. We thing it’s a shame it won’t be sold more widely.
Designed in Sweden and engineered in the UK, the Uniti One strays from our picks so far by having three seats (we hear your collective gasp). Despite this abundance of capacity, it’s very much aimed as a city-dweller’s dream vehicle, capable of the odd escape to the suburbs thanks to a 67bhp motor and 12kWh standard battery offering 93 miles of range. An optional 24kWh battery ups this to 186 miles thanks to outrageously good efficiency of just 8kWh/100km. A 600kg dry weight helps this.
There’s even more practical plus points thanks to 50kW charging adding 62 miles in 10 minutes, and a 7kW onboard charger enabling 20-80 per cent to be achieved in just over two hours. At £15,100 starting price, the One seemed to offer quite a lot for the money, though the company has gone quiet of late. We hope they pop back up again.
Another EV built in the UK the MeV (Manchester Electric Vehicles) Bee was launched last year with the ambition of offering a viable, small EV for the same money as a second-hand VW Golf – between £8000 and £10,000 – to enable more people to get into zero emissions motoring. A combination of recyclable materials and clever building techniques were designed to keep the cost low and the weight light. Unfortunately, beyond that we haven’t seen or heard much since. Like with the Uniti One, let’s hope the idea gets off the ground, as in principle it’s a very good one indeed.