With a central driving position, a tiny 10 kilowatt, extremely noisy motor, either three or four seats in total and two sliding doors which required you to press a flower-shaped release button to open them, the Mia Electric will undoubtedly enter the history books as one of the weirdest electric vehicles to enter production.
As of Wednesday, it looks to also become one of the ‘also rans’ in the footnote of electric car history.
As French language site Challenges.fr noted on Wednesday, the small-scale German-baged French electric automaker was placed into receivership on Wednesday in an attempt to salvage what remains of the brand.
Founded just four years ago, Mia Electric hoped to capture the market for low-speed city electric vehicles by offering a uniquely designed vehicle that was both easy to drive and spacious inside.
The central driving position in between the front axles, stubby nose and tight turning circle certainly made it look good on paper, but the practicalities of its underpowered drivetrain and 34 second 0-62 mph time (yes, we did just say 34 seconds) made it useless anywhere outside of the urban jungle.
With lots of space inside for shopping bags or cargo, Mia Electric had also hoped to corner the minicab and city courier markets with the tiny runabout. Its price however — an eye-watering £22,012 after UK government grants — meant that few were sold.
In fact during 2012, just 337 Mia Electrics were sold worldwide. Last year’s figures remain a mystery, with the company entering into enough financial problems by September last year that it began to have difficulties paying its staff.
At the time of writing, Mia is still trading and hasn’t declared official bankruptcy. The involvement of the receivers however should probably be viewed as a last-ditch effort to make the company profitable.
Transport Evolved understands company president Michelle Boos will continue to remain in control at the company, although now in collaboration with the receivers whose job it is to try and balance the company books, pay off any debts and regain a positive cash flow. Mrs. Boos had previously promised the company would enter profitability in 2014, selling approximately 200 cars per month.
In the face of tough competition from far better specced cars from Renault and Nissan however, Mia has failed to meet all of its production and sales goals.
It’s hardly a wonder either: for just a few thousand pounds more, it’s possible to a Renault Zoe, Nissan LEAF, or Renault Kangoo. All of which have far more powerful motors, a better top speed, and are made by well-known automakers with extensive dealer support networks.
Mia’s troubles place it the latest in a very long line of floundering boutique automakers and startups trying to desperately make it big using uniquely designed and usually underpowered, overpriced electric vehicles.
But now major automakers are making electric cars too, there’s no hope left for them, is there?
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