Renault are well known in Europe for producing small, affordable cars some of which are available as electric powered versions. But this is their first ground-up electric vehicle, the Twizy. What is seen as an industry first for a mainstream auto manufacturer, Renault are hoping that the Twizy will be popular for city dwellers who need economic “A to B” transport.
Its compact size and tiny 22ft turning circle will make it ideal for urban driving and with a top speed of 47mph it will be able to keep up with most city traffic. A three and 1/2 hour charge gives a 60 mile range which is adequate for short, quick local journeys, perhaps to and from the office, or a trip to the coffee shop.
The Twizy comes with a 15kW (20 PS) electric motor and features a lithium-ion battery that must be rented from Renault for around $60 a month. Assuming your monthly fuel costs work out to be more than the battery rental fee (plus electricity charging costs) then this is good value. But the Twizy isn't cheap, and will retail for around $9700, so is a lot more expensive than a street-legal electric golf cart.
The passenger sits directly behind the driver, like a fighter jet, and the occupants are almost protected from the elements with two half-height side doors and a clear glass roof. Stowage space is available underneath the rear seat and is big enough for a briefcase or grocery bag.
The Twizy does have similar safety features to a street legal cart including three-point seat belts, mirrors, rear and front lights and turn signals. The Twizy does have safety features that you won't find on a golf cart, a drivers airbag and front crumple zones. So it should fare a little better during an accident.
From what we gather from other internet reviews, the Twizy is nimble to drive, has instant acceleration and is comfortable to sit in, but can be a bit drafty due to its half-height doors.
The Twizy will probably be popular among the fashion conscious Parisians, but it remains to be seen how the rest of the world will find this electric "car". Compared to its nearest electric "car" competitors it does seem to be attractively priced, but it's safe to assume that electric golf carts are still going to be the electric vehicle of choice for those of us in the US.