Tuesday, June 25, 2013
In only a few hours I am going to go and try out a new and rather exciting little "car": the Renault Twizy. If I put "car" in quotes, it's for a good reason. It's not really a car, at least not a traditional one, and legally it goes by a different name: quadricycle (heavy or light, depending on the power rating of the different models). It's unfortunate that the name 'hybrid' is already taken, because this vehicle is a true hybrid of a car and a scooter.
On the car side, it has 4 wheels, a steering wheel, full seats, seatbelts, an airbag, and a windshield and roof (though no rear window).
On the scooter side, it is narrow, has two inline seats (passenger behind the driver), and is lacking incliment weather protection (optional doors only partially close off the openings on either side).
To make it stand out even more, the Twizy has one other exciting feature: an electric drivetrain. An electric motor drives the rear wheels, making this ride unlike any car OR scooter most of you have ever tried. The range on a full charge (3.5 hours) is listed by Renault as 100 kms, though user experience shows that it apparently reaches 60-80 kms in real-world driving.
This week I signed up for a TwizyWay pass, an electronic badge that allows the user to rent a Twizy within a large urban zone to the southwest of Paris. Similar to bicycle rental programs available in many major cities now, I simply have to geolocalise a Twizy on my Smartphone, swipe my card on the card reader installed in the car, and drive off. The car has to be returned within the defined zone, but I am free to drive it wherever I like. The distance travelled is tracked by the car, and my bank account is deducted the corresponding amount.
Tonight will be my first try, not only of the TwizyWay system, but also of the vehicle itself. If I don't update this blog by tonight it means I have run out of charge and am sitting on the side of the road somewhere! Please, if you see someone sitting in a Twizy in the dark on the outskirts of Paris tonight, bring an extension cord!