Renault Twizy: Electric Quadricycle
A quadricycle is not a car. It's still got four wheels, in some cases a roof, and can be propelled down the road under its own steam. But it is not a car. The Renault Twizy is a quadricycle, a really good one, and I think it's ace.
Y'see, the little Twizy is an incredibly clever idea. It's cheap to buy (starting from £6,690 in the UK) and you needn't worry about batteries driving the price up because you lease them from Renault -- keeping the cost of the car down. It's small, so it's easy to park. It's light so even though there aren't many batteries, you can go up to 60 miles on a single 3 ½ hour charge. There's even room for two people inside (just). Ok, its optional scissor doors may look cool but its lack of windows (now an aftermarket option in the UK) may make winter driving something of a challenge.
So why don't I think it'll work? Simple: It's designed for people who live in cities.
The Twizy itself is a blast to drive. It steers well and its 17 brake horsepower motor is very responsive. Also, its 50 mph top speed feels rather quicker than it is thanks to having no windows.
Renault wants the Twizy to take over large urban population centres, to become a nice, easy alternative to the car. It's narrow, so you can fit two abreast on busy city roads, which means you can double the number of people using the roads. Ideal for a city like London, then. Except it isn't.
Big cities, like London, are full of flats and unless you're a millionaire you'll be living in one. A small one at that. Those in houses can install a charge point in their garage/front garden/have a plug sticking through the letterbox, and leave their Twizy on the drive to charge. The young funky types in flats don't have this luxury. That is, unless they have a REALLY LONG extension cable and a sadistic desire to trip up their neighbours.
The government has already stated that there won't be a charge point on every corner, too, so flat-dwelling Twizyists will have to wait in line to charge their motors. The worst-case scenario here is lots of Twizy owners waiting in a big, funky shaped line.
This could change, though. Further proliferation of electric cars could mean a change in attitude all over the country. Landlords will install charge points in every parking bay, more public charge points will appear and public car parks will make it easier for 'leccy motors to charge while their drivers shop.
Renault has got a brilliant product in the Twizy -- it's small, easy to drive, cheap to buy, good looking (in a futuristic way), and fun. I love it dearly because its low power thrills make it unique compared to other electric vehicles. I hope it takes off, because I'd love to see a street lined with charging, sleeping, Twizys (Twizies?) and their owners discussing how much fun they are. I'd buy one, but I live in a flat ...