Twizy tickles Europe’s fancy, but will electric car sell?

Michael Fitzgerald By Michael Fitzgerald

Despite lots of buzz, electric cars haven’t exactly jolted the car market. The Nissan Leaf is probably the best-selling e-car, but only 27,000 sold worldwide last year.

Spain’s Prince Felipe looks at a Renault Twizy. The small electric car is being manufactured in Spain. (Reuters/Felix Ordonez)

One reason for low sales is that e-cars, like most new technologies, cost substantially more than similar gas-powered cars. It may be that small is better. In Europe, Nissan’s partner Renault is pushing its spunky ‘quadricycle,’ the Twizy. The Twizy was officially launched in late March; later this week will go on sale in the United Kingdom.

A quadricycle is a cross between a car and a motorcycle, and looks something like a spiffy golf cart, though it does include an air bag. The Twizy is no Tesla or Chevrolet Volt — top speed appears to be about 53 mph. It has a range of 30 to 60 miles, and seats two (“but not for too long” opines this reviewer).  In the UK, it will cost between 6690 pounds and 7400 pounds, or roughly between $10,700 and $11,840. That’s a fraction of the cost of a full-fledged e-car. (A really, really basic version of the Twizy may also be released in the UK; it would not exceed 28 mph, so drivers in the UK would appear not to need a license.)

The Twizy isn’t a car, and isn’t a motorcycle, but if reviews from the UK are any indication, it might attract buyers. This reviewer for the tech publication The Register said “I’ve not enjoyed driving something this much for a long time.”

Orange, a large French telecommunications firm, said it will add 100 Twizys this year to its corporate fleet (of 35,000 vehicles), as part of an effort to reduce overall emissions.

Even if Europe’s tizzy about the Twizy translates into gigantic sales, we may not see them in the U.S. One big reason why: tough U.S. crash-test restrictions. GreenCar Reports raises questions about the entire ‘neighborhood electric vehicle’  concept, and argues that Twizy gets buzz primarily because it’s the first such vehicle from a mainstream car maker.

Still, success of the Twizy in any market could encourage development of other models and bring down the cost of e-car technology overall.

For more on the car, check out the review at the link below.

Straight to the Source