Crowdfunded Estonian Nobe electric has a plan to revive bubble cars


Estonian Nobe concept

Estonian Nobe concept

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Want to get in on the ground floor of a new electric-car startup? Crowdfunding seems to be the latest rage for automotive startups in Europe.

The latest is an Estonian startup called Nobe, which hopes to raise funding to build a small, electric three-wheeler. The company officially launched the vehicle Wednesday along with a crowdfunding drive looking to raise just over $1 million to build the car. (Another effort is the German Crowdcar, which is planning to compete in the Wave electric car rally in Switzerland next month.)

Nobe's designers aren't the only ones who figure if you're going to build a tiny electric three-wheeler, at least it should be cute. 

In a video on the company's website, Nobe's designers say they want it to make people smile in the way they do when they see a classic VW Bug—it conjures nostalgic memories but isn't trying to impress anybody.

To that end, the Nobe 100 looks like it rolled right out of 1959, with slim window pillars, a wraparound rear window, a targa bar wrapping over the roof, and a metal dashboard with big analog gauges and a wicker parcel tray underneath. The front end looks like something Alfa Romeo could have designed in the '50s.

In its introduction of the car last fall, Jalopnik noted that the Nobe 100 looks like a cross between an Alfa Giulia, a Studebaker Avanti, and a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller. That strikes us as about right.

Estonian Nobe concept interior

Estonian Nobe concept interior

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Everything in the Nobe seems to come in threes: three wheels, three seats (for very cozy people), and three motors, one to drive each wheel.

The company founders say the car will be upgradable over time as batteries and motors improve. As a crowdfunded concept, there are no hard specs anyway, though the company has a few targets: 60 horsepower and 100 miles of range from the main battery.

Estonian Nobe next model concept

Estonian Nobe next model concept

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Nobe says the car will also have a second, removable battery to run the lights, heat, and radio, and that drivers can remove this battery to charge outside the car—say, in a coffee shop—to get a few more miles of range. The second battery looks like a 1950s leather suitcase that sits in the footwell between the front passengers.

Even though the Nobe is just a crowdfunding concept and may or may not ever make it to production, the company already has a design for a second design that looks something like a miniature, three-wheeled Ferrari 250GTB.

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