Archive for renault twizy

Renault Twizy – an apology

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Driving theory, General opinions with tags on 06/07/2012 by Alexander

When I first wrote about the Twizy – Renault’s electric quadricycle – I was a bit nasty about it, and called it all sorts of horrible things. I admit I was a bit of prick, because I was treating the Twizy like a car. Then yesterday I saw one, and it dawned on me: this isn’t supposed to be a car, it’s a motorbike with extra wheels and protection. From that perspective, it makes a whole lotta sense, and is actually quite a sensible way of getting around in the city. I still maintain some of the stuff I said, especially concerning how dang expensive the thing is, even when compared to those more expensive bikes.


Renault Fluence Z.E. (probably stands for “Zero Economizing”)

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Car conception, Green Tech, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , , , on 10/11/2011 by Alexander

Renault’s latest addition to its all-electric family, the Fluence Z.E., reintroduces problems that came with the Twizy I’ve already written about.

For €21,000 (that already carries a €5,000 tax discount), one of these EVs can be yours. But then you have to pay €82 a month for battery pack rental, for a maximum of 10,000km a year. That’s not counting electricity. Which makes this car a jolly expensive vehicle to run, even in the long term. Doing the corresponding maths, each year you’ll pay €984 alone for the battery rental, plus electricity (which Renault say will cost around €2 per 200km), for a measly 6,000 miles. I do more than double that a year and my fuel bill is around €800. Even counting maintenance costs, my ten-year old Volvo is still a better deal.

OK, then there’s the usual drawbacks of it being a fuss to recharge, the range, etc. I once read (I don’t remember where) about an entrepreneur who wanted to create a network of battery-recharging stations where you’d take your EV and simply switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one. This implies a certain standardization of batteries I don’t think car manufacturers are ready for, but it would be a clever way to go. Either way, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the current model of EV usage is way, way too inefficient to appeal to a wide-ranging market. The cleverest bet thus far is an EV with a range-extender, best exemplified by the stunning Fisker Karma. This isn’t to say the Electric Car itself will fail, just that the current concept of it will.

Renault Twizy – another wasted chance?

Posted in Car conception, Green Tech, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 26/04/2011 by Alexander

Electric cars aren’t a novelty. In the late to nineteenth and early twentieth century, they battled it out with internal combustion engines as the solution to powering the horseless carriage, and even though they were smoother and more efficient than early petrol-drinkers, they eventually lost to ICEs due to the longer range and easiness of refuelling with petrol, as well as the eventual drop in price of a new gasoline-powered car because of mass production. Until the 21st century, it was downhill from then on, with no convincing solution for electric propulsion amid many tries, some more infamous than others. Everyone knows what a stupid blunder General Motors committed with their EV1, and it’s been an example of how not to go about things. Had GM stuck with the electric vehicle concept, they might have developed better related technology and become the role model for the surge in interest in EVs that’s been witnessed during the past few years, thanks to the realisation that oil is expensive, polluting and is running out. Instead GM decided to moronically destroy all their EV1s, and become known as the “Company that Killed the Electric Car”. With that kind of vision, small wonder they nearly went bankrupt! But I digress.

The problem is that it would seem car manufacturers aren’t exactly hell-bent on repeating and/or avoiding previous mistakes. And where should I start? Perhaps at the beginning, years ago, when auto-makers started making a big hullabaloo about upcoming electric vehicles: the Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera and the Nissan Leaf, to name a couple. The hype gave way to an expectation-killing wait, and the announcement of prices that would make even the most die-hard electric vehicle fan baulk.

Renault has proverbially jumped on the bandwagon with their Zero-Emissions concepts, utilising their partnership with Nissan for the underlying technology. And the first model to roll off the production line is the Twizy, a two-seater quadricycle that Renault says will revolutionise the market. And forgive me for sounding pedantic, but if that’s not completely over-hyped bollocks, then I don’t know what is. If there was a revolution to be had, then the G-Wiz would’ve got there first. And that’s really all this Twizy is, really. A more stylish G-Wiz with no doors and a lower price tag. But of course that may be they key to the thing, what with other electric vehicles costing staggering amounts of money. The Twizy will cost (here in Portugal) €7000, which is nice, but then Renault slap an extra €45-per-month charge to rent the battery, for a 3-year period and for no more than 7500km a year. And that’s not counting the cost of the electricity needed to recharge it (probably every day, given its crappy range). So if you do exactly 7500km in a year (goodness knows what Renault will charge you if you go over this), that works out at €0.072 per kilometre, which sounds great. But a diesel car that does 5 litres per 100km on average will cost (at current fuel prices) €0.075 per km. Yes, it’s slightly more expensive, but only slightly more, and with considerable advantages. You aren’t limited to only 20.5km per day (7500km max limit divided by 365 days), you can go on a motorway, you can refill quickly and easily and you have doors on the sides of your car, meaning you won’t have to smell and hear everything around you, and can use your car in the rain and cold.

So let’s be honest, what sort of person will this Twizy appeal to? First off said person has to have their own garage, since they can’t park it outside (it has no doors and needs to be plugged in safely). They can live no further than 10km from their workplace and must have an enclosed parking spot there (because it HAS NO F**KING DOORS, and stray dogs can get in and have a snooze, not counting all sorts of unsavoury humans who won’t think twice to vandalise/burglarise/mistreat the innards of your car). Doesn’t sound like much of a market.

Anyway, like most electric cars, it’s been announced with a lot of fanfare, and tested by moto-journos, even though it’s only available next year. Nothing like a good, long, stupid wait to wane desires for a car that, conceptually speaking, won’t work.