It’s the smallest electric vehicle from any major automaker in production today, is equally fun to drive on busy city streets or snowy alpine pistes, and happens to count the legendary retired race car driver Sir Stirling Moss among its fanbase.
Yet the minimalistic Renault Twizy, despite a small but devoted fan base in Europe, has never been available in either Canada or the U.S., partly due to its limited top speed, and partly due to the brand’s exit from the North American market in 1992 after an atrocious business relationship with first AMC and then Chrysler
As we hinted back in March however, that’s about to change with the news that Renault has appointed an official Canadian retailer for the tiny two-seat urban runabout in the French-Canadian province of Quebec.
According to HybridCars, Renault announced on May 23 at the Journée électrombile 2015 — an annual Montréal electric vehicle event held this year on the Île des Sœurs (Nun’s Island) in the Saint Lawrence River –that the Azra Network would be its official Canadian distributor for the Twizy. A locally-owned and operated charging network based in Montréal, Azra currently provides both domestic and public charging stations throughout Canada.
While the Azra Network is now the official Twizy importer however, there’s still a little bit of red tape that needs to be taken care of before the car is considered road-legal for use in Montréal and elsewhere in Canada.
That’s because Transport Canada and Transport Quebec are still in the process of approving the vehicle for use on Canadian roads, with both the Twizy 45 and Twizy 80 undergoing final homologation. The most powerful Twizy model, the Twizy 80 is so-called because of its top speed of 80 kph (50 mph). Driven by a 13 kilowatt rear-wheel drive motor and 6.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, it travels faster than most neighbourhood electric vehicles, but isn’t fast enough to travel on major freeways.
As a consequence, it’s being considered for a special classification which would grant it access to all city and suburban surface streets, but prevent it from travelling on busy, fast-flowing highways and freeways.
It’s official: Renault’s pint-sized electric runabout is heading to Canada.
Meanwhile, its lower-powered sibling the Twizy 45 — designed for use in some European countries without a driving license and legal in other European countries on a moped license — would be classified as a neighbourhood electric vehicle with a restricted speed of just 25 mph (40kph). In Canada therefore, it would be known as the Twizy 40 rather than the Twizy 45 on account of its lower top speed.
In stock configuration, the Twizy 80 has a real-world range of between 30 and 45 miles per charge, while the Twizy 45 due to its lower power consumption and smaller 4 kilowatt motor , can manage as much as 50 or even 60 miles per charge.
Given that plenty of enthusiasts have now figured out how to easily and reversibly reprogram these speed restrictions on both models of the Twizy to achieve far higher top speeds, we’re curious as to just how many people will keep their stock Twizys limited to either speed.
Azra says it’s taking orders already for the tiny two-seat runabout, with a starting price of $17,000 CAD, which we presume includes the battery. In Europe, the Twizy retails for far less, but owners must rent the battery pack on a monthly lease plant proportionate to their predicted annual mileage.
Azra Network VP Daniel Turcotte says the firm already has plenty of interest from would-be buyers, although just how many people have put down a deposit isn’t clear. In the near future, the firm may also import the Kangoo ZE electric van into Canada, but confirmed the Renault ZOE won’t be making it over the Atlantic due to its likely poor performance in North American side impact testing.
As for availability? That’s nationwide across Canada, says Turcotte with the promise that instead of visiting a local dealer for a test drive, “the dealer will come to you.” Speaking to HybridCars, Turcotte confirmed Azra has no plans to offer the Twizy to those west and south of the Canadian border, but it would like to do so if it was feasible. Given the strict regulations requiring importation of vehicles from Canada into the U.S., we think it might have a tough time trying to do that.
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