Founders: Oliver, Wim and Merlin Ouboter
Business model: Development of the “Microlino”, a light electric vehicle with a range of up to 200 kilometers and a top speed of 90 km / h. The starting price is 12,500 euros.
You were successful with scooters around the turn of the millennium. Why now an electric vehicle?
Wim: It all started with a marketing idea. We wanted to present a “bubble car” for children for the toy fair a few years ago. The 1: 5 scale model was so well received that we thought: Let’s exhibit it at auto shows. We laid out a reservation list just for fun – and after three days we had 400 interested parties. Then we knew: the idea has potential.
The first presentation was in 2016. What happened in between?
Oliver: At the beginning we were certainly not so confident that we dared do the project ourselves. But then there was a dispute with a first production partner, which dragged the whole thing out quite a bit.
Merlin: Then we decided that we would take control. And have designed the Microlino again. Ultimately, we developed a completely new vehicle within a year and a half.
And where are you now?
Merlin: The approval process is nearing completion. We want to start the tapes this year. And we have 24,000 reservations to date. They haven’t made a deposit yet, but have already made their desired configuration. That’s a good sign in terms of demand.
Many are rushing to the market for electric vehicles – including the established manufacturers. How are you going to counter it?
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Oliver: We are fast. We always work with partners – and use standard components wherever possible. In addition, we have around 60 percent fewer parts than in a normal vehicle, which simply makes it cheaper.
The finished Microlino is to be approved as a “light electric vehicle”, such as the Renault Twizy. This vehicle class currently plays a very subordinate role on the roads. How are you going to popularize them?
Wim: Our chances are much better in the niche. Other e-car manufacturers want to penetrate existing model types. But the big players are also working on getting cheaper and better there. Our company can manage to bring a product that is not cool into a cool corner – we have also proven that with the scooter.
Merlin: The light electric vehicles often scream for abandonment and compromise, so to speak. Our Microlino certainly doesn’t do that. We have thought very carefully about where we want to make compromises. And certainly not when it comes to protection from the weather or storage space. We didn’t want to just take a normal car and downgrade it.
Who do you, as a customer, have in mind?
Wim: It goes cross-country, from city dwellers to suburbanites. We’re not necessarily trying to attack the first car. Our goal is to be a second vehicle. And customers will then notice that the Microlino with a range of 230 kilometers is sufficient for 95 percent of their everyday journeys. We are building the gateway drug into electromobility.
(Image: fpi / heise Autos)
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