As we reported a few weeks ago, the city of San Francisco may love electric cars and car sharing, but its lack of provision in city law for electric car sharing parking permits meant that BMW’s DriveNow car share service will soon leave the city altogether, despite enjoying high levels of business.
Now it seems BMW’s DriveNow customers will have another all-electric car share option for their trips in and around San Francisco, albeit in a slightly different form, courtesy of a collaboration between Japanese automaker Nissan and scooter share service Scoot.
Scoot, which has celebrated its third birthday, has offered San Francisco residents and visitors a choice of regular and cargo-equipped electric mopeds to rent by the hour from a variety of different locations across the city. But as of the weekend, Scoot now offers customers who aren’t happy with just two wheels a new rental option to get them around town: a little four-wheeled all-electric quadricycle it’s calling the Scoot Quad
But look at the picture above, and the chances are you recognize this tiny two-seat urban runabout by another name: the Renault Twizy.
Made possible through the Renault-Nissan alliance — which sees both automakers share the same CEO, vehicular platforms and technology — the two-seat quadricycle has been leading a double-life as a Nissan-branded urban runabout for some time in various car-sharing projects in Japan. But for its trip to the U.S., Nissan’s engineers have taken the Renault Twizy and restricted it to just 25 mph.
The reason? With a top speed of just 25 mph, the Twizy can be classed as a quadricycle in most U.S. states, meaning it doesn’t have to pass the same tough NHTSA crash tests as regular full-size cars. Given most streets in San Francisco are limited to 25 mph anyway, Scoot says the limited speed shouldn’t be a problem, while the torquey electric motor should handle most hills with ease.
Safer than your average two-wheeler, the Scoot Quads come with the same safety features as the standard Renault Twizy: a four-point harness for the driver, plus regular three-point seatbelt for the passenger. There’s a single airbag up front, while the entire cabin is protected by a tubular roll cage designed by Renault’s Formula 1 race team. The down side? There’s no creature comforts, with only a heated front windshield to ensure it doesn’t mist up in winter. There’s no heater, no radio — and as with its European cousin, no windows.
Despite the lack of creature comforts however, this tiny four-wheeler drives like any other car, save perhaps for the lack of creep or hill assist: take your foot off the brake in a Scoot Quad, and it’ll roll back, warns Scoot in one of its orientation videos for the new vehicle.
Just like its moped fleet — which don’t require a motorcycle license to ride — Scoot says you can drive the four-wheel
Twizy Scoot Quad on a regular car license. The only requirements? You need to be 21 or older, have a valid U.S. drivers license, and have no more than one accident or moving violation in the last three years. To become an official member of Scoot, you also need to be a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, or work within the same, but as with its moped rental, Scoot offers a special 2-day visitor pass for those who aren’t local.
Rental prices for the Scoot Quad start from $80 for 12-hour rentals running from 7am through 7pm, while renting one from 7pm through 7am costs just $40 per day.
Having lived with a Renault Twizy on our press fleet for a year, we can attest that the two-seat electric runabout is particularly fun to drive, especially if you’ve got a friend to ride with. Thanks to the way in which the Twizy is built, with outboard wheels, non power-assisted steering, rear-wheel drive and independent suspension all round, the Twizy give a direct and go-kart like ride.
But with a limited top speed of 25 mph in order to circumvent tough automotive regulations, we’re not sure the Scoot Quad will be as popular in San Francisco as it is in Europe — especially for those who are used to cars with a little more creature comforts than the Twizy can offer.
We’ll try and test out the service in the next few months, but in the meantime if you’re in San Francisco we’d love to know what you think of the service and the Scoot Quad (Twizy).
Be sure to leave your experiences in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.