When the diminutive two-seat Renault Twizy quadricycle went on sale in Europe back in 2012, it created something of a stir around the world. Looking more like a gocart than a conventional car, it offered those in busy mega cities an alternative means of transport that occupied the space between a full-size car and a scooter.
Safer than a two-wheeler, it came with driver airbag as standard and, depending on the version chosen, a top speed of either 27 mph or 50 mph. Recharging its 6.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack from empty to full in just a few hours from a domestic outlet and offering up to 50 miles of real-world range per charge, it was designed to be fun, funky, and cheap to own. And while the Twizy wasn’t completely embraced by young European Generation Y and millennial in the way that Renault might have hoped, it quickly became a niche-market runabout with something of a cult following, even becoming the vehicle of choice for race car legend Sir Stirling Moss.
Save for a few test fleets in Japan and more recently, its addition to the Scoot Moped Sharing Fleet in San Francisco, it’s been impossible to even drive a Twizy — or its Japanese identical twin, the Nissan New Mobility Concept (NMC) — outside of Europe, let alone own one.
Live in Quebec, Canada or visit the New York Auto Show this week, and that won’t be the case.
As we detailed last June, a Québécois distributor in Montreal, Canada has been working with Renault to bring the lower-speed Renault Twizy 45 to Canada as a low-speed neighborhood electric vehicle. As well as ensuring it meets with all local laws concerning lighting, instrumentation and safety, the four-wheeled urban runabout has had its top speed culled from 45 kilometers per hour (27 mph) to just 40 kph (25 mph) in order to classify as a road-legal low-speed vehicle. Consequently, it has been rebranded as the Renault Twizy 40, and has just passed all the necessary legal hurdles to allow its sale in Canada.
As of this summer, it will go on sale in Quebec as the Renault Twizy 40 through Canadian electric vehicle charging provider AZRA.
Externally, there’s very little difference between the Canadian-market Renault Twizy 40 and its European siblings. Aside from the reduction in top speed to ensure it meets local laws for low-speed vehicles, the Canadian-market Twizy 40 does away with the 240-volt tethered charge cable of the European Twizy and instead features the same J-1772 charge inlet found on other North American electric vehicles. It also features additional side-mounted position reflectors as detailed under Canadian law.
Does this mean the Renault Twizy can be imported into the U.S. too? It’s not clear at the time of writing — and we’re not experts in the field — but having looked at the special Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for low-speed vehicles, it does appear that a similarly configured Renault Twizy 40 could be treated as a low-speed vehicle (and thus be limited to certain types of roads) under U.S. law.
We assume Renault Twizy — or rather the Nissan NMC — models already being used in San Francisco by Scoot Networks adhere to exactly that official Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, namely FVMSS 500. How easy it would be to privately import one from Canada to the U.S. however is a completely different matter.
Those in the U.S. wanting a Twizy of their own may find themselves having to wait a little longer to get one, but at this week’s New York Auto Show, four Twizys will be let loose on the streets of New York City as part of a micromobility demonstration organized by Nissan.
As Nissan detailed this morning, the four vehicles — wearing the Nissan NMC nameplate — will be attending a series of events surrounding the 2016 New York Auto Show. At each, Nissan will use the quartet of low-speed vehicles to explore the possibility of using low-speed vehicles like the NMC as an answer to ever-increasing congestion and pollution in the world’s Megacities. At the same time, it will share the experiences of the 10-vehicle fleet in operation with Scoot Networks in San Francisco, with specific focus on how the Twizy/NMC could be the perfect fit for future ridesharing and car sharing platforms.
This isn’t the first time the Twizy has been in New York, either. When the Twizy first launched in Europe, it headed to New York as part of a global tour.
Those visiting the New York Auto Show will be able to see the four quadricycles in action, but in the meantime we’re curious what you think about the Twizy.
Do you own one in Europe? Do you think they have a place in the city of the future? Or does the tiny vehicle lack all of the usual creature comforts that most folks look for when buying something with four wheels? And if you’re in North America, are you tempted to get one as an errand-running low-speed vehicle?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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