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Chinese Microcar with Italian Design for European Markets

Mycar
MyCar

Via WorldChanging comes news of a microcar designed in Italy, manufactured in China and headed for European markets at a price of about €6,500 (US$7,000). Competitive microcars sell for €8,500 to €15,000.

Like other microcars, the MyCar is meant only as a short-range city street vehicle—and is regulated by a different ruleset than for larger cars.

These microcars are technically light quadricycles, governed by EU directive 2002/24/CE which sets out three fundamental criteria: speed, empty weight and maximum power. These vehicles, which can be driven without a license, must have an empty weight not exceeding 350 kg, a maximum speed of 45 km/h (28 mph) and develop maximum power of 4 kW (5.6 hp).

Innovech’s MyCar initially offers only a combustion engine, which meets the Euro 2 standard, but the manufacturer has aspirations for hybrid and battery-powered versions as well.

The initial test market will be Italy at the end of this year or early next year, but Innovech will also focus on France, Spain and Germany as key markets. The company will start the homologation process in Europe in mid-2006.

Built and distributed by Hong Kong-based Innovech, the MyCar was designed by highly-regarded Italian automotive design firm Italdesign-Giugiaro. In essence, instead of an Italian company outsourcing its manufacturing to China, it’s a Chinese company outsourcing its design to Italy.

The low costs come from Chinese manufacture and the use of light-weight plastics in its production.

“This is not a very sophisticated car,” [Innovech general manager Sin Ling Chung] acknowledged. “It has 20 injection molded plastic panels for the interior and exterior, and metal stampings for the engine.”

Comments

odograph

You know, when I saw the words "Italian Design" in my RSS reader I had higher hopes ;-). Clicking through ... ah ok, interesting.

t

I think it's way cute. Progress can be accelerated through the use of appropriate technology. Does it really make sense to drive multi ton vehicles with 300 hp on city streets? Ultimately, it makes sense to virtually ban cars from our cities, but providing exceptions for tiny cars might be an acceptable interim approach.

Because it is so cheap, it would be viable as a second or a third car to be used solely for city driving, especially down neighborhood side streets where the speed limit is low anyway.

For those with big trucks, it could be loaded on to the bed on the way to the city and then unloaded at the city gates.

odograph

FWIW, I think some beautiful little cars were made in europe in the post-war years (some bad ones too). We remember the original Mini, as one example. I've also liked one model of the Moretti, the 750 Gran Sport.

See the top right corner of this page. It's got a little bigger footprint, but I think could be made as light with a tubular frame and plastic skin.

My recommendation to the electric car folks would be to mine the designs of the early sports car years ... when things like the Moretti were offered in 55 bhp models.

odograph

Sorry, their frames or whatever fooled me ... click on "moretti" and then look at the top right ;-)

Mark A

I agree with odograph. Some of these small car designs, made with todays composite/metalurgical advances, would outperform alot of the current designs. But instead, we get rehashed oversized mustangs, soon to be released bulky challengers and bloated camaros from the domestic three.

Give us a 3/4 scale cobra, with 2 vinyl seats, snap-up convertible top, folding/sliding side windows, heat/ac for under $9000. Leave out the carpet, radio, cabin electrics, other than guages, and other frills. Put in a 1.0 liter gas/hybrid or diesel powerplant in slide out "unit", which can be easily replaced or swapped, as a "unit" by the customer. Doesnt have to be majorly refined. I could live with a little vibration.
And when hydrogen/wankel/pure electrics/air pressure/solar become the powerplant of favor in the future, offer them in the same "unit", and swap out as desired. I would buy two........

super390

Another small sports car from that period that might work is the highly aerodynamic Lotus 11. While not as light as the frameless Elite, it's crude enough that a lot of Chinese factories could build it with a motor of 20-30 hp. Surprisingly, some were used as street cars in Britain.

Adrian

I like how unlike SMART, Innovech starts out with something real. They look at regulations and pin down exactly the parameters for the design with regards to weight and horsepower.
They have a clear goal to mass produce for innexpensive inner city commuting.
Sure, a less then economical engine, but they will strive to improve in future revisions as technology and experience become available. A progress also helped by user input on comfort and practicality.
SMART just comes out with outlandish ill advised gimmics hoping to catch excentric buyers who have too much money and environmental guilt for having driven tanks all their lives.

Here's hoping Innovech overcomes the temptation to waste their money on looks and focus on increasing safety, comfort and practicality while reducing the overall cost of the final product. Maybe then the world might take sub-compact cars a little more seriously, and I may afford to buy one with my less then stellar income. As it is, SMART is only for the fasion conscious and the well off.

PS - I'm only SMART bashing because almost every single car design they've showcased on this site has been some fancy creation showing us primitives what cool people of the future will drive, with no clear direction on mass producing an 'affordable' product at present. They fall in the same pie in the sky bag as those thinking everyone in the world will eventually drive solar powered cars.

thuan

I like the MyCar design. And I like the electrical version. But I wouldn't to say Innovech champion Smart nor MyCar looks like a Smart. They are not wrestling in the same category. MyCar is a new challenger for car makers such as Aixam, JDM or MicroCar (yes, it's brand). The Smart ForTwo is simply too fast. Its drivers could easily go on highway lanes whereas MyCar will still stick themselves to small roads. Under European regulation, those cars mainly target drivers who lost their driver licences.

lensovet

Adrian, i think you're missing the fact that the smart is actually being sold and driven by many people around the world, including european countries.
it just hasn't made its way to the us. if you're really curious, just go north of the border to see them in canada.

americo leblonde

oh ye, in canada, LOL! The Smart For Two are
$30.000 - which is $29.999 canadian now.
Don't kidding me. It's not worth more than
$6-7000 - All TheBigThree just a bunch of
loosers...

John Shanton

Odograph's January 27, 06, 9:52:59 AM's posting describes the microcar I own very well! It is a 1958 Berkeley SE 328. It is a no-frills sportscar that is about 10 feet long, weighs not a lot, just 800 pounds, and has a snap-up convertible top, plug-in side curtains, two vinyl seats, and gives over 60 miles per gallon. I wrote in detail about this car, and a host of others in its class in my book: "Mini and Microcars, yesterday, today and tomorrow."

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