Microcar Features That Make It Successful
Microcar is a classification which encompasses the smallest automobiles which are only designed to seat two or sometimes even just one person. They are even smaller than traditional city cars or subcompacts whose diminutive size makes them ideal for high-density urban areas where traffic and inaccessible parking spaces are a constant problem.
The exact definition of a microcar is up for debate, especially considering the fact that various countries have their own interpretation. The most significant factor is the size of the engine. In the UK, for instance, a microcar is either powered by an electric battery or a gasoline engine no larger than 700cc. The U.S. definition is a car with an engine 1000cc or less in size.
The Characteristics of a Microcar
Besides its small size compared to other automobiles, microcars boast a unique feature and that is being three-wheeled. While this is not a prerequisite and not all microcars have only three wheels, this is a common trait for many of them. This, in conjunction with the small size of the engine, allows certain microcars to be technically classified as motorcycles which constitutes a bonus for tax and insurance purposes. Normally, the lone wheel is present at the back, but there have been certain models where the wheel is at the front such as the Reliant Robin. However, this does lead to issues with handling and stability.
As expected, microcars are kept simple from a mechanical and technological point of view. For instance, many microcars do not have a reverse gear. However, this does not necessarily constitute a problem as these vehicles are so light that they can be lifted up by one end and turned around manually. Engines are also diminutive compared to traditional car engines. While the U.S. definition allows for a microcar engine to be up to 1000cc in size, most of them will actually range between 50cc and 500cc and will only have 1 cylinder and 1 wheel drive.
One feature of microcars is only present in certain countries and only applies for those which are categorized as motorcycles and that is not needing a driver's license. As a result of this, microcars are often popular in these areas with the elderly who are not capable or willing to pass a driver's test.
From a design perspective, many microcars are similar to each other and feature a bubble dome canopy in the style of an aircraft. This has led to them also being referred to as bubble cars.