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Renault all in a Twizy

Cross-bred: Renault's Twizy electric car/scooter makes its world debut in production form at the Barcelona show this weekend.

$27 is all it takes to reserve place in queue for Renault’s Twizy EV in Europe

13 May 2011

RENAULT’S futuristic all-electric Twizy can be reserved online by would-be buyers in Europe, with the French car-maker opening the books for pre-orders of the cross-bred car/scooter ahead of its world debut in production form at the Barcelona motor show this weekend.

However, Australian buyers need not rush to their computers just yet, as Renault Australia has no plans to import the revolutionary vehicle any time soon.

Due to go on sale in Europe at the end of this year and manufactured at Renault’s Valladolid plant in Spain, the two-seat Twizy will be available as a three-variant line-up, with prices ranging from €6990 ($A9334) to €8490 ($A11,337).

Renault is taking €20 ($A27) deposits via a special website for customers wanting to pre-reserve their Twizy ahead of its showroom release in the 38 countries slated to receive the vehicle.

The €6990 entry-level Twizy 45 is so-called because its 4kW electric motor enables a top speed of 45 km/h, meaning that in some countries it can be driven unaccompanied without a driving licence and on a provisional driving licence from the age of 16 in others.

For qualified drivers, the 7kW Twizy Urban (€7690) and Technic (€8490) can reach 80km/h. Both low and high power outputs are complemented by 57Nm of torque, available from zero revs.

In addition to the purchase price, Twizy customers must also pay a battery leasing fee of €49 per month (€45 for the low-power model) in a 36 month/7200km per year agreement.

35 center imageFrom top: Renault Twizy production version, Twizy concept, Kangoo ZE, Zoe EV, BMW C1.

Renault says the Twizy is more agile than a car – having a turning circle of just 3.4 metres – and that its acceleration performance is “comparable with that of a scooter”.

All Twizy variants are claimed to be capable of a 100km range from their lithium-ion batteries, which take 3.5 hours for a full charge from a standard 10 amp power outlet, using a three-metre spiral cord stored under a hatch at the front of the vehicle.

The battery pack accounts for 100 kg of the vehicle’s 450kg weight and Renault quotes the Twizy’s official European CO2 emissions figure of 32 grams per kilometre as including the “entire energy production cycle and vehicle usage”.

The Twizy is classed as a heavy quadricycle, meaning it does not have to conform to normal passenger vehicle safety standards. It does however have disc brakes all round and a driver’s airbag and four-point harness. The passenger, who sits directly behind the driver, gets a three-point seatbelt.

Other than the roof and transparent front-side fairings directing wind and rain around the cockpit, the Twizy 45 and Urban are fully open to the elements but offer covered storage in the form of two glove boxes and closed compartments beneath the driver’s seat and behind the passenger seat.

The Twizy Technic adds half-height scissor doors with transparent lower splash protectors plus alloy wheels, white seats, metallic paint and carbon trim on the glove box lid, roof and doors.

Optional extras include a semi-rigid 50-litre backpack that acts as auxiliary storage when attached to the passenger seat, a water- and wind-proof apron that encloses the driver’s legs, an audio kit featuring Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity.

Customers will also be offered rear parking sensors – which are likely to come in handy given that the Twizy lacks a rear windscreen – and a selection of personalisation options including different colours for the 13-inch wheels and exterior decoration packs.

Renault claims the 2337mm-long Twizy “gets around town faster than a traditional city car thanks to its unprecedented compact dimensions”, but unlike a scooter or motorcycle, Twizy drivers are unlikely to find lane-splitting easy due to its 1191mm width (not including the mirrors), which is wider than the mammoth Honda Goldwing motorcycle.

The French car-maker claims the Twizy, which originates from a concept of the same name that debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt show, is set to “send shockwaves through the industry as well as the corridors of rival city car and scooter manufacturers”.

In concept but not execution the Twizy resembles the BMW C1, a single-seat scooter (with optional pillion seat) which was produced from 2000 to 2003 and intended to overcome the safety and practicality objections of commuters who would otherwise benefit from riding to work on a motorcycle.

The C1, which featured a crumple zone, roof with roll cage and a full seat with harness, was designed to be ridden without a helmet. It became something of a cult item and sold in small numbers due in part to its uneasy place in the motorcycle legislation of countries where it was sold.

At the 2008 Paris motor show, French car, scooter and bicycle brand Peugeot unveiled a three-wheeled scooter with a roof in the form of its HYmotion3 conceptThe Peugeot was powered by a hybrid drivetrain comprising a 15kW supercharged petrol engine driving the rear wheel and twin 3kW electric motors in the front wheels to offer three-wheel drive and self-supporting stability.

As GoAuto has reported, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar has made it clear that electric vehicles are off the agenda until a solid business case can be proved. Mr Hocevar cited the lack of EV infrastructure and government incentives in this country and said that the company must first prioritise re-establishing the Renault brand Down Under.

At the Seoul motor show in April, Renault announced that a zero-emissions version of the South Korean-built Fluence sedan would go into production. The brand is also pushing ahead with its Kangoo and Kangoo Maxi electric van range in Europe and also working on putting its Zoe electric hatch into production.

The Kangoo Z.E. is powered by a 44kW/226Nm electric motor, has a 650kg payload and a 160km battery range. The larger Maxi, available in two- or five-seat configurations, has the same power and torque output but its range increases slightly to 170km.

Pricing for the Kangoo in Europe will range from the equivalent of $A26,000 to $A29,000, plus a $A90 per month battery lease fee over four years/58,000km.

The four-door, five-seat Zoe hatch is a similar size to the Clio and has a 160km battery range. Its electric motor produces 60kW/222Nm and Renault expects the Zoe to be priced comparably to an equivalent diesel hatch after stater subsidies are taken into account.

Renault’s global alliance partner Nissan is also forging ahead with electric vehicles, its multi award-winning Leaf electric hatch already on sale in Japan, Europe and the US and set for Australian release next year.

Renault is having a good year so far in Australia, with 784 sales to the end of April representing a 17.9 per cent increase on last year. The Megane hatch is the brand’s most popular model with 242 sales YTD, followed by the Koleos crossover with 190 sold and the Fluence sedan, which launched in October last year, of which 109 have found homes.

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