Five electric quadricycles that could take micro-mobility mainstream


Wind pummels the Ami’s plastic flanks as I tack through a winter storm. Fallen branches – no more than twigs, really – pose a threat to this tiny machine’s progress, and I’m forced to weave between them like a minnow in fast-flowing shallows. In front of me, the Ami’s lone wiper slowly loses its battle with the deluge; to my rear, a growing queue of traffic, trapped – as I am – at 28mph.

Technically the Ami isn’t a car, it’s a ‘light quadricycle’, which in regulatory terms has more in common with a moped. Characterised by inexpensive engineering, lightweight bodywork and speed restrictions, these diminutive vehicles are commonplace in France, Italy and Finland, where local licencing laws make them an affordable and hassle-free mode of transport for people who can’t or won’t get a full-fat car. In fact, across much of Europe, young teenagers can drive these things as they would a scooter, protected from themselves by its low power and dismal top speed.

Admittedly, the Ami is difficult to recommend here. Our roads are too fast and our licencing laws make it difficult for anyone without a full licence to drive one. And if you have a full licence, and £8,000 to buy an Ami, you might as well get a second-hand Corsa or Fiesta or i10. Citroen has sold six or seven hundred of these oddities in the UK, presumably to town-dwellers who never need to exceed 20mph limits. But while it’s easy to scoff at the Ami, it could be a sign of things to come – several ‘quadricycle’ models from a range of manufacturers are set to launch over the next year or so. That could be the start of a shift to an alternative mode of transport better suited to the urban journey than a traditional car.

But what options are coming. Here are five quadricycles that could change mobility forever…

1 Citroen Ami

Arguably the car that started it all, Citroen’s Ami is by far the most prominent quadricycle in the UK at the moment, especially since Renault discontinued the less weatherproof Twizy (which was also available as a faster ‘heavy quadricycle’). Packed full of brilliant design choices, and a handful of terrible ones, the Ami is one of the most interesting (and daring) models to be released by a major manufacturer in the past ten years.

2 Fiat Topolino

The quirky Topolino is Fiat’s version of the Ami – effectively the same machine wearing a dapper Italian costume. Sunny beaches and warm promenades are probably a comfortable habitat for this slow and slightly uncomfortable car, which struggles in the cold and which should probably be used primarily off-road; Citroen sells a beach-focused version of the Ami too, which is understandably unpopular in Britain.  

3 Ark Zero

The British-Chinese start-up Ark has begun selling a bargainous, if unimaginatively named, Zero. It has a power output of just 2.2kW, which makes the Ami’s 6kW seem like a rally car by comparison, but a significantly lower price tag of just £6,000 (making it arguably the UK’s cheapest new EV) and a reasonable 50-ish miles of claimed range. Unlike the Ami, it has an infotainment system, and the maker says it has room for “two people and a dog”.

4 Microlino

Perhaps the most desirable microcar is the retro-futuristic Microlino, a heavy quadricycle with more than a passing similarity to the ‘bubble cars’ of the 20th Century. A distinctive forward-opening door and a cute, roly-poly silhouette make it one of the more compelling designs in this otherwise rather goofy segment, though the Switzerland-based maker has yet to confirm UK availability.

5 Mobilize Duo

Remember the Twizy? This is its sequel – an all-electric quadricycle from Renault’s zero-emission mobility spin-off Mobilize. Like the original Twizy it’ll be available as either a light or heavy quadricycle, with top speeds of 30mph and 50mph respectively, but this time it’ll be aimed at the rental market – we anticipate the Duo being available by the minute or as a long-term subscription.