Photo: Barcroft Media/Getty Images
21.04.2020 | 3 minutes

The world’s smallest electric car: A model car kit for adults

The smallest electric car in the world is a classic British model. For car enthusiasts the P.50 is even available as a model to build by themselves.

In 1962, the Peel Engineering Company advertised the Peel P50 – the smallest car in the world – that could fit “one adult and one shopping bag.” Next to it, even its fellow countryman, the Mini, looks like a giant, although its name already states the obvious. This three-wheeled microcar still holds the record for being the world’s smallest production car. There were several attempts to bring the collector’s car back onto the market after production was terminated in 1966. One of them is the London startup P.50 Cars, which breathed new life into the classic car under the name “P.50 Saloon.” Since 2019 the three-wheeler with a cult status has even been available as an electric car.

Record-breaking car

The new edition of the classic Peel P50 looks very similar to its role model. Basically the manufacturers have only added a few centimeters in height, width, and length. The new model is 1.37 meters long, one meter wide, and 1.2 meters high. Similar to the classic version, there is room for one person. It can be accessed by a door on the left-hand side of the vehicle. Only the weight at that time (56 kilograms) could not be maintained, which has now almost doubled to 105 kilograms. What’s more, the original from the 1960s had one wheel at the front and two in the rear. It is the other way around in the new model. At the end of the day, the thin plastic body and narrow wheels of the three-wheeled car resembles more an electric scooter than it does an actual car.

Bis 1966 wurde der Peel P50 gebaut. Das weltweit kleinste Serienfahrzeug gibt es seit 2019 auch als Elektroauto.

The Peel P50 was built until 1966. Even then it was the world's smallest car that was produced in series. Photo: Getty Images / Central Press / Hulton Archive

Today collectors highly value the original model. It is estimated that there are only 27 of them left worldwide. A record-breaking price of 176,000 British pounds (approx. €190,000) was paid for an original Peel P50 at an auction in Sotheby’s, the legendary London auction house, in 2016. Back in 1962 it was still available factory-fresh for just 199 British pounds, which today would be around €7,200 (after adjusting for purchasing power).

Toys for adults

The new edition from P.50 Cars is similarly affordable. The lowest-price version with an electric motor costs around €10,000. This makes the P.50 Saloon one of the least expensive electric cars in the world. In addition to the standard model of the P.50, the startup is manufacturing two additional models: a Spyder-styled cabriolet and a replica of the Peel Trident, which was also produced by Peel in the 1960s, a microcar similar to the Peel P50.

Die Neuauflage des Peel P50 ist eines der günstigsten E-Autos der Welt und bietet Platz für eine Person und eine Einkaufstüte.

The miniature car offers space for one person and a shopping bag - that's all. Photo: Getty Images / Obank / Connellan / Barcroft Media / Barcoft Media

The manufacturer of the world’s smallest electric car also has a very special version of the P.50 for car mechanics and DIYers: the cult remake as a kit car. A kit car costs only about €7,400, which means you can save on manufacturing costs and it make sure you know your car inside and out. All parts are delivered, and of course it also comes with assembly instructions.

Whether old or new, the P50 may only look like a toy for adults at first glance. A microcar like the P50 or the new P.50 can be a real lifesaver in certain situations, such as in heavy urban traffic or for shorter shopping trips. Concepts like these can help contribute to greater sustainability in urban driving, in particular. In Germany, it is registered as a lightweight vehicle and is allowed to drive up to 45 kilometers per hour. According to the manufacturer, the range of the microcar is 80 kilometers on one battery charge. That is always enough for a shopping trip.


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