Bibendum 2011 Mia threeseater offers unusual VIP feel in a micro bus

16 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Bibendum 2011 Mia threeseater offers unusual VIP feel in a micro bus отключены
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Bibendum 2011: Mia three-seater offers unusual VIP feel in a micro bus

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How much call is there for a three-seat minibus? Mia Electric is about to find out.

The company will soon start to build the Mia Micro.Bus, a unique little car that feels like the secret lovechild of a VIP limousine and something from Volkswagen ‘s discarded concept pile. In reality, former VW chief designer Murat Günak did help develop the Mia, which was designed specifically as an urban vehicle. The car’s most striking feature is, without question, the seating arrangement. The driver gets a prime spot front and center, with the two passenger seats splayed out behind him. This is because, we were told at the 2011 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Berlin last week, 70 precedent of all urban drives are done by single occupants, with 70 percent of the remaining 30 percent made with, at most, two passengers.

The triangular arrangement means that the passengers have a lot of luxurious legroom. It’s quite impressive, in fact. Maximizing passenger comfort may not be how people think when they buy cars, but it makes sense on paper.

There is a small but important difference between fitting three and four people into a car. After all, four is kind of an arbitrary number, just like three. We’re used to four people in a normal car, but you could squeeze a fourth into the Mia just as you could squeeze a fifth into your everyday sedan.

According to information on display in Berlin, there are three variations: the Mia, the Mia L and the Mia U (the Mia Electric website instead lists something called the Mia Box Van ). The standard Mia uses an 8 kWh LiFePO4 (li-ion phosphate) battery pack for a 90-kilometer range and a 110 km/h top speed. The extended Mia L has a 12 kWh pack, a 130-km range and can cover 130 kilometers before needed a charge. The Mia U? Not sure.

But what’s it like inside the Mia when going down the road? Well, it’s got all the noisy rattles of an electric vehicle from a small company and the brakes feel a little tense and harsh. The steering works, but it’s not exactly wonderful. While there is enough space up front, it doesn’t feel like the driver has a bunch of extra room, except sideways.

The doors open with a little push of the flowers on the frame (not on the door itself, which we couldn’t figure out ourselves).

If the Mia performs well on the road, it would be a perfect car for a car-sharing service to use. This would guarantee that all the trips are urban ones. Of course, at somewhere between 19,500 and 24,500 Euros a pop (depending on model), who wants to buy a few hundred of them and leave them around town for drunks to forget to charge up?

Also, the driver when alone can enjoy the extra shoulder space and when you use the Mia as a tiny bus passengers can feel like they’ve been upgraded to VIP passenger status. This feels like a fun car, and taxi companies and designated driver services could probably take advantage of it best. Nothing’s perfect, but the Mia certainly offers a cool alternative.

We’ll soon get to see what the public thinks about the Mia Micro.Bus. The company is starting production on June 1 in Cerizay, France and plans to make 4,000-6,000 vehicles this year. It already has orders for 3,000 thus far, mostly in France and Germany. In 2012, the plan calls for making 12,000 to 14,000 of them.

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