Microcar? Nanocar? Small city car? Tiny electric cars are so rare the world hasn’t really settled on a name for them yet. But one thing is for sure, with its removable, swappable battery system, the Silence S04 is one of the most unusual microcars out there and certainly means it offers something most other microcars don’t, especially those speedier models, that, like the S04, have a 52mph top speed.
Will Silence S04 crack the UK microcar market?
Microcars may have a hard time convincing potential EV buyers to actually buy them, especially in the UK, but the Silence 04 is looking to change all that, most notably with its eye-catching feature of two 5.6kWh removable batteries on board that can be easily removed and pulled away on pop-down wheels for charging elsewhere.
Add in a top speed of 52mph, claimed 92 mile range and dinky 2.28 x 1.29 x 1.59 metres dimensions and you have a capable looking microcar, on paper at least. The on-the-road price of £15,995 is roughly in line with the performance on offer, as the Silence 04 sits midway between 28mph microcars like the Citroen Ami and full size electric cars. In terms of size and weight the Silence 04 is actually a little more modestly sized than the Citroen Ami (2.28 x 1.29 x 1.59m & 450kg vs 2.41 x 1.39 x 1.52m & 471kg respectively). Loading capacity for the S04 is quoted as 313 litres vs the 61 litres of the Ami.
Other features include keyless operation, ABS, air conditioning, electric mirrors, 7” TFT display and audio system with Bluetooth. Silence claim the quality of the finish and ride of the S04 is more car-like than many of its microcar rivals.
Legally speaking, the Silence S04 is a so-called heavy quadri-mobile (L7e) and as such requires a full UK driving licence (full B category). It’s not legally allowed on motorways (not that you would want to drive it there).
Silence’s history and their USP battery system
The S04 has been around some time – it debuted at a trade show in 2021 but has only just gone into serial production at the company’s new 60,000 sq. metre Zona Franca factory in Barcelona. It’s encouraging to see that the UK is included in Silence’s European rollout of their first microcar.
The genesis of the S04 really comes from Silence’s history as an electric moped maker and it’s notable that it uses exactly the same removable battery system as found on their range of electric mopeds. The system has served them well as Silence make many thousands of electric mopeds a year and they are a huge hit in Spain.
The Microcar’s batteries are ergonomically hidden underneath the seat and when removed their integral trolley wheels and a handle allow them to be wheeled away for charging via a standard domestic socket– though the vehicle can also be plugged in at most car charging points via a socket at the front end. Silence say they also sell an inverter that allows the battery to be used as a domestic power source. There is also talk of the possibility that Silence’s battery swap system will be coming to the UK, meaning batteries would be leased by drivers, reducing the £RRP considerably (if you lease batteries for their two wheelers in Spain it reduces the cost of the vehicle by some 40%).
At around 50kg not many people will be lifting the battery over steps, though it’s clearly going to help some potential customers who would otherwise be unable to access charging for the vehicle. Silence’s battery guarantee is 3 years – better than that offered on many smaller electric vehicles but not up the standards offered on most ‘full size’ electric cars.
It’s also interesting that Silence say there will be a 28mph version in the fullness of time, but it’s perhaps a mark of their ambition that they have chosen to go with the faster (and presumably pricier) version for launch. Of course only time will tell if their ambitious and novel approach to microcars finally help popularise them in the UK.