We don't have the chance to discuss the Isetta very much -- mostly because the hard-to-miss mid-century minicar is a rarity on this side of the Atlantic. In Europe, however, the Isetta was a popular model, and on a good day, you might even still see a few navigating narrow city streets. Clearly, BMW is hoping to cash in on European nostalgia for the model, as it's in the early stages of re-launching the brand.
The semi-official launch comes by way of a new commercial (embedded above) and by an unnamed source cited on the BMW blog, who says the Isetta "will be a reimagining of the original cult classic using today’s and tomorrows technology to provide urban mobility and sustainability in a lovable modern design wholly inspired by the original." Which sounds to us like someone has a press release pretty much ready to go.
The Isetta will be the product of a new partnership between BMW and Fiat, and the first model -- which may roll out as soon as 2010 -- will be based on the Fiat Topolino. The brand will likely distinguish itself from MINI by producing even smaller, more fuel-efficient citycars that help BMW meet increasingly strict European emissions regulations. Rumors suggest that the first models will feature small gas and diesel engines, but that the brand may quickly move toward electric-only vehicles. Speculation is that the Isetta will boast "combined fuel economy of 100mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 90g/km". (Or in American figures, just over 83mpgs.)
Given America's wariness toward super-small cars, we wouldn't expect to see the Isetta here anytime soon -- although as minicars like the ForTwo become more popular and efficiency standards rise, the American public's perception may change. Stay tuned.