August 18, 2022

Danish Design

~ by Chris “#16” Demaras ~

A couple days ago, I was in the parking lot of a Silvan hardware store in Grenaa, Denmark, picking up items for the summer-house. Pulling out of the parking spot, we saw this retro-futuristic looking vehicle. It was bigger than a motorcycle, but had a full body, like a car. The styling emended me of and early 90’s vehicles like the Pontiac Trans-Sport minivan and the Italdesign Aztec, Aspid and Asgard prototypes. The driver got in front of me and slowly accelerated into traffic.



I needed to know more about the ‘car’ and found it has a special place in Danish motoring history. Called the “City-EL” it is a lightweight, 3-wheeled, electric car originally designed and manufactured in Denmark. Originally developed as the Mini-EL by EL Trans A/S in 1987, then by Eltrans89 A/S in 1993 and CityCom A/S in 1995. A German investor took over the company and moved the factory to Aub, Germany, in 2009 and rebranded as Smiles AG, and after further financial difficulties, the business as restarted as CityCom GmbH.



The vehicle is for one person, seated centrally. Rather than conventional doors, the whole top-half of the vehicle hinges upwards on gas-struts allowing access to the cockpit. The driver operates car-like controls (steering wheel, brake and throttle pedals) although the vehicle is classed as an electric motorcycle in some countries.



There appears to be a strong nostalgia around this car in Denmark, as they’re still seen running around small towns, at car shows, and even in road rallies.

It’s not clear whether you can plug it into a Tesla super-charger, but enthusiasts have been swapping out the old lead-acid batteries with newer, lighter lithium-ion batteries, propelling the vehicle to a staggering 50 km/h!



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