Peel P50: The world’s smallest car is back

world's smallest carA Smart Fortwo seems like a small car. Upon first seeing one, many people think that it is unsafe, and wonder how it can keep up with traffic with only 70 horsepower. However, the Smart is not that small. It’s 106.1 inches long, but there is a car out there that is only 54 inches long. When the Peel P50 debuted in the 1962, it was the world’s smallest car, and it still is. A new company is putting this three-wheeled moped back into production.

Some futurists predict that people will give up their cars for more efficient personal transport pods, but we’ve already been there. One person can barely fit inside a P50 and, at 130 pounds, the car might weigh less than the driver. Despite being designed during the Kennedy Administration, the P50 does have some modern features. For example, it is mid-engined, just like a Ferrari 458. By “mid-engined,” the company means that the engine is in the cabin, alongside the driver.

The original engine as a 49cc moped unit, which made 4.2 horsepower. The new P50 (and its two-seater Trident sibling) uses a slightly less powerful, 3.35 hp engine. Luckily, the old car’s reverse-less three-speed transmission has been replaced with a modern CVT. Peel is also offering an electric version with the same power. The engine and transmission should be enough to get the P50 up to 28 mph. The top speed is electronically limited; clearly Peel needed to reign this beast in to keep its customers safe.Peel P50 being towed by person

Safety is an important thing to consider, since a swarm of P50s can fit in a truck’s blind spots, and there is nothing to absorb the impact.

A car that can only go 28 mph does not seem very useful, but the Peel has some major advantages over normal-sized autos. It gets an estimated 118 mpg, without any batteries, electric motors, or regenerative braking. It makes the Peel EV’s 35 mile range seem kind of silly. No wonder Peel’s slogan has always been “almost cheaper than walking.” The P50 does makes a credible replacement for your own two feet, as Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson demonstrated when he drove one through offices and elevators at the BBC’s headquarters.

Now, lazy office workers everywhere can rejoice, because the Peel is back. The Isle of Man-based company stopped producing cars in 1969, but it has been reinvigorated by cash from the BBC business show Dragon’s Den. A new P50 will cost about $16,000, which is $2,500 more than the gargantuan Smart. An original Peel would have cost $2,200 in today’s money.

Other cars offer more amenities for the price, but you can’t park them in your living room. That will probably be enough of a reason for some people, especially if they already have a car. It will also make Smart drivers feel good, since their cars are like monster trucks compared to the P50.

Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Cars

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Cars

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Cars

Allegro.ai is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named Allegro.ai. We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.