In 1992 they started making a range of standard sized cars under the Mega brand, but by 2002 this brand was just being applied to a diesel and electric range of microvans and light utility vehicles. The company currently produces the Aixam A.7XX series (powered by Kubota diesel engines), a microcar comparable with the Smart. A notable difference is that some of the smaller models are restricted to 45 km/h (30 mph) and can be driven without a driver’s licence in some European countries (including Belgium, Estonia, France, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal and Slovenia, but not the UK). In Britain they are classified as a category L7e quadricycle (quad bike) because of their weight and power output. This requires a category B1 licence to legally drive them. In 2006 Mega launched the Electric Mega City at the British International Motor Show.
The Aixam 400, 500 and 500.5 are very basic vehicles mechanically by today’s standards. There were a variety of engines offered over the years, the most popular in the UK is the ’500′ sized engines, the Diesel fitted with a Kubota Z482-E two-cylinder 500 cc Industrial engine rated at 11.5 bhp (9 kW; 12 PS). The Petrol versions used a Lombardini 505 cc twin-cylinder of approx 19.5 bhp (15 kW; 20 PS), later petrol cars fitted with fuel-injection. Steering is by Rack and Pinion and has a comparatively low ratio, giving the car a twitchy feel at speed until accustomed to. McPherson Strut suspension is used at the front and semi-trailing arms at the rear. Brakes are by disc and single-piston calipers at the front, with drums at the rear also serving for handbrake function, via cables. The hydraulically operated brake-light switch is another common fault with the Aixam, causing no brake-light operation Transmission is by a Continuously Variable Transmission, CVT made and supplied by CVTech-IBC. The reversing gearbox and combined differential unit of 8:1 forward ratio, (A cause of much trouble if not looked after) is supplied by the Italian company COMEX, which also supplies many of the other running-gear, steering, suspension and braking system components. Aixam vehicle faults include brake problems and the reversing-box. Brakes need regular maintenance, normally yearly, main issues are with handbrake mechanism seizing. The CVT Variator and drive-belt can also give trouble on high milage cars. Belt life is around 10-12 thousand miles. There have been reported cases of electrical issues normally relating to bad connections and chafed wiring causing shorts. The Diesel engines by Kubota are very reliable and have a gear driven camshaft (No cam-belt) they require service at 3,000 miles (4,800 km), oil and filter. Fuel filter should be changed at 6,000 including the pre-filter. The Petrol Lombardini engined versions can suffer from ignition issues associated with the crank angle sensor giving a no-start symptom. The Italian made COMEX reversing gearbox was fine for the original use for which it was intended, namely a small town runabout or delivery van of less than 8BHP and limited to 30MPH and of the ‘No Licence Conveyance’ classification in certain European countries such as France. In such countries, these vehicles are classed as ‘Mopeds’ and not proper Cars. However this component was not uprated for the use the car finds with the larger engines and the UK market. Servicing this part is often neglected, leading to unrepairable breakdown of the gearbox. (Bearings fail and destroy the case) Oil in the reversing-box should be changed at 6,000-mile (9,700 km) intervals (Or less if used heavily) and one litre of 80w90 GL4 oil used. Aixam themselves recommended increasing the oil quantity from 0.7 litre, a few years after entering the UK market, possibly to prevent premature failure.