Matteo Maestri’s idea was to create the smallest four-wheel electric vehicle. Behind his company Estrima, created in 2008, he gives rise to Birò. This new means of transport looks like a golf cart. Its dimensions are very limited: 1.74 x 1.03 x 1.56 m. In all, the vehicle occupies 1.80 m2, that is, little more than a Piagio MP3as Matteo Maestri explains to us.
The aim of Birò is to offer an alternative to classic cars, imposing and impractical in the city.
Two engines and an ingenious charging system
Birò is available in two engines:
- Birò (L6e): without license (from 14 years old), 55 km of autonomy, maximum speed of 45 km/h, removable battery.
- Birò Bolt (L7e): requires licence, 100 km of autonomy, maximum speed of 60 km/h, fixed battery.
In the case of the Birò L7e, the battery is under the seats. She doesn’t move. You have to connect your vehicle to your house. Interestingly, the charging cable is a stupid three-pin PC electrical cable. It’s cheap and you can find it everywhere.
However, as Birò is cut out for the city, it’s hard not to think about those who don’t have parking. The L6e has a removable battery, such as a scooter or an electric bicycle. Accessible from a rear compartment, it looks like a small suitcase. About ten pounds. But she is on wheels. Enough to easily get you to an apartment, as long as you have an elevator. There, it is charged in the conventional sector.
Birò suitcase battery demonstration
Birò does not make the fast charge curve. As your vehicle must be easily charged from a lambda outlet, it only charges at 1.5 kWh, a conventional dwelling supporting 3 kWh. It takes 6 hours for a full charge of the L7 (100 km) and 4 hours for the L6 (55 km). In urban use this seems correct to us, but prohibits advancing much further unless you have time to kill during the possible charge.
A compact and agile vehicle
Two bodies are available (in ABS), Big Biro and Big Biro, to satisfy the individual and the professional with a large storage space at the back, for example. Birò is designed in a tubular structure. Manufactured in a safety cabin factory, the box is considered to be very solid. The arches are slim thanks to the tubular design. This allows Birò to display large glazed surfaces. The view is therefore perfect on board.
Maneuverability is very comfortable with a small turning radius. It’s agile and easy to drive. Onboard maneuvers are uncomplicated thanks to excellent peripheral vision. On the wheelbase side, four Birò can be parked in a single car space.
With that, we are sure to find a place next to the bakery in Paris, other than a classic car. On this point, Matteo Maestri explains that “To move freely in a city does not necessarily mean to be free to go everywhere, but above all to stop wherever and whenever you want”. There, we can say that it is successful.
Basic but effective equipment
Inside, there are two places very close to each other. It is better not to have a very big waist. Controls are relatively uncluttered. The classic rooms are there: turn signals, headlights, horn and handbrake. The gearbox is materialized by a single button to engage forwards or backwards.
Added to this are some comfort elements, such as a USB port, a smartphone holder and even an umbrella, as standard. A car radio slot is available. At this point, Birò could have chosen a Bluetooth speaker, much more in tune with the current era. A little more than we have with the Citroën Ami, Birò’s competitor.
Biro is not made for adults
The habitability is limited in width, as we could say. It’s the same in height. If you are 1.90m or more, you will play the pavilion.
Depending on the model you choose, there will be more or less storage. If we exclude the Birò Big and its installation of boxes, there is storage of 41 liters behind the seats and another equivalent in the rear in the Bolt version, with a fixed battery. On the other, it’s simply the location of the battery. A glove compartment completes the set.
Not the best driving position
Let’s move on to what bothered us the most during our Parisian test: the driving position. Because of the very small dimensions of your ATV, Birò does not put the steering wheel in front of the driver. It is shifted to the right. What follows is an absolutely counter-intuitive driving position.
The seats are not adjustable and neither is this steering wheel.. We are hunched forward, which is not pleasant. And the pedals don’t help at all. Very close to the driver and centered in the cabin, makes it impossible to use with the foot on the ground. If this is done, the foot is permanently dorsiflexed.
Birò has taken our criticisms into account and assures us thata V2 is already planned for the end of the year and should fix these problems. A confession that can only encourage those interested to wait a little.
Telematics, the little bit more technology
Birò is also a technological element through its equipment. It has integrated telematics. This allows, through a companion app, to access various information, such as the remaining charge or the location of the ATV. It can be shared between multiple users, but we remain on a key system. A smartphone start would have been more versatile for shared transport.
Birò: is the price a problem for you?
“Made in Italy” has a high price. Birò starts at €10,800 for its basic version, no licenses and no ports. That’s a lot of money for a city car.
It’s not a flagship electric car, but a second knife, a bit like Citroën’s Ami or Renault’s Twizy. And the comparison is stark as these two vehicles are shown at less than €8000 each. The difference is therefore significant.
Birò highlights its after-sales service at home, its basic telematics on board, its European construction. It’s up to everyone to see if these points are worth €3,000.
Birò also has a second-hand service. More interestingly, it allows you to drive a vehicle at approximately €6000. This one is completely refurbished. Undoubtedly, an alternative to study.
We appreciate the compactness of the Birò. It’s nice to drive in a big city, you don’t go through traffic, but you can find places easily. The weather was fine and without doors the ride was pleasant. The ingenious battery case won us over too, as did the generic charging cable. Performance is sufficient in the city.
But the big disadvantage remains the driving position. As it is, we cannot travel the 55 km of autonomy without feeling pain in the joints. Back, shoulders, feet, everything goes for an average size (1.77 m for 76 kg). The steering wheel really needs to be repositioned and the pedals moved away. To see in V2.