This slender, fresh-faced machine is the ARK Zero, a new car from a new brand seeking to lower our mobility footprint. For a number of very obvious reasons, size isn’t everything when it comes to driving in cities. Way back at the turn of the century, one of the first EVs to come to the UK market was the G-Wiz, a 2.6m city car made by Reva Electric Car Company, an Indian manufacturer, complete with old-school lead acid batteries and a stunted, micro-car shape that looked perilously unsafe, even when parked.
But despite inevitable and justified criticism from pundits, the G-Wiz was a low-key hit, especially in the heart of London, where its diminutive size and exemption from congestion charging and even parking fees made it the perfect machine to stash in a mews.
Legally, these vehicles are defined as ‘Electric Quadricycles’, and make a virtue of their limited speed (maximum 28mph) to compensate for their very non-car-like crash performance. The G-Wiz was discontinued in 2019, but although the execution was poor, the little EV pointed to a genuine gap in the market.
Thus far, only the characterful Citroën AMI has ventured back into the realm of the microcars, although other players are also gearing up. One of those is ARK, founded by serial entrepreneur Yilmaz Bora in order to capitalise on the neighbourhood electric vehicle (NEV) trend.
ARK’s first car, the Zero, is clearly not designed to travel on any kind of highway. A micro-car-style tandem two-seater, the aluminium-bodied Zero swathes its low price with minimal design details to add maximum character, from the smiling ‘face’ to the soft pastel colour scheme. Crucially, the Zero has a very similar scale and stance to the current crop of Chinese micro-electric cars, where NEV is a major market sector.
The Wuling Hongguang Mini is China’s best-selling EV, with a host of other manufacturers crowding into a space where cute, compact and ultra-comfortable cars are helping mobilise the younger demographic. ARK is betting they’ll also take off in the West.
The little ARK Zero might not have the AMI’s design innovation, and its Chinese OEM origins are hard to conceal completely, but it is potentially the lowest-cost car on the British market. What it feels in the rough and tumble of urban traffic, towered over by buses and facing off with mopeds, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, ARK hopes that for those who need to get from A to B at minimum cost without getting wet (and you’re not travelling more than 50 miles), then the Zero will be without equal.
ARK Zero, from £5,995, ARKmotors.co
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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