Opel Rocks-e, Renault Twizy 45, Aixam City Diesel: Microcars are more and more common on the roads. They are intended to be practical car-style city runabouts because of their small size and low engine and battery power. In addition, like a moped, they can be driven at a young age. A driving license for the moped is sufficient to be allowed to sit behind the wheel of a microcar. However, DEVK insurers warn of a lack of safety in light motor vehicles, which usually drive at a maximum speed of 45 km/h.
On country roads, they are causing traffic jams more and more often because they are more difficult to overtake than ordinary mopeds due to their width, which is similar to that of a car. The ADAC, which tested the four light vehicles Opel Rocks-e, Renault Twizy 45, Aixam City Diesel and Ellenator last year, also speaks of a "security risk that should not be underestimated" due to the low top speed. Especially in the dark, it is difficult for other road users outside of built-up areas to correctly assess the difference in speed, as they are perceived as normal cars. And light motor vehicles with a maximum speed of 45 km/h are only suitable for longer cross-country journeys.
In addition, there are no statutory safety regulations for mobile vehicles, which fall under the "L6e" vehicle type, as there are for passenger cars. Siegfried Brockmann, head of accident research at the insurers, reported to DEVK about a crash test with microcars "years ago". "The results were not such that one could recommend these vehicles with a clear conscience," quoted DEVK Brockmann recently. Hardly anything has changed since then. "It's just that the safety of normal cars cannot be achieved with the low weights." Although the driving speed and the weight of the vehicle are significantly lower than in passenger cars, Brockmann points out: "You can't choose your collision opponent - and his weight and speed - after all."
The "moped cars" tested by the ADAC do have three-point seat belts, "but the rest of the safety equipment is outdated," judges the automobile club. Among the Opel Rocks-e, the Renault Twizy 45 and the Aixam City Diesel, only the Aixam has an anti-lock braking system (ABS) - and only at an additional cost. The Twizy, on the other hand, is the only one of the three vehicles that comes with an airbag as standard. The Ellenator, which is a converted Fiat 500, on the other hand, has ABS, ESP and seven airbags as standard. The safety was at "car level", but the vehicle with the two centrally placed wheels on the rear axle performed poorly in terms of driving stability: the mobile threatened to tip over in the ADAC evasion test. As with the Aixam, the automobile club attested to "driving behavior that was critical in the limit area". The European test consortium NCAP, which carries out crash tests with cars, had previously tested the four light motor vehicles Aixam Crossover GTR, Bajaj Qute, Microcar M.GO Family and Chatenet CH30 in 2016. The result here: "Your safety performance falls far short of the safety of similarly sized passenger cars."
According to the DEVK, microcars are particularly popular with schoolchildren because they can already be driven with a moped license. They only need an insurance license plate - like a scooter with up to 50 cubic centimeters - and are registration-free.
Due to the lack of safety, the insurance company recommends an alternative to "moped cars": bicycles or e-bikes. Because you can ride it on the cycle path, drivers are usually more protected and safer on the road. In addition, both are cheaper to buy: Buying a microcar is a significantly higher investment at a price of between around 10,000 and 20,000 euros. And the liability cover for an e-scooter only costs half that of a moped.
In comparison, according to the ADAC, the car-like vehicles have more driving comfort and space. And in contrast to mopeds, the risk of a secondary impact on the road is largely prevented in light motor vehicles by the three-point seat belt and the closed passenger cell. Compared to cars, they are above all more manoeuvrable. In addition to the lower consumption of the L6e, which runs on fuel or electricity depending on the vehicle, this is certainly an advantage when driving in the city. The choice of vehicle should therefore be well considered in advance, taking into account the area of application.
Sources: DEVK, ADAC, Euro NCAP