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COP17: The Twizy – the look of 21st century mobility?

06 December 2011
COP17: The Twizy – the look of 21st century mobility?

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager writes from COP17 in Durban on Renault's Twizy EV buggy, which is on display there among many low carbon high-tech Climate Solutions.

For those seeking relief from the formal negotiating process, COP17 in Durban has much to keep the curious or the easily distracted interested.

Situated at the entrance to the main complex is the Climate Solutions area which contains exhibits from a wide variety of businesses and organizations. The products and services on offer range from the high-tech to the low-tech, but each provides an exciting example of existing or emerging low carbon solutions.

As in previous years there are a number of electric vehicles (EVs) on display, most prominently a selection from the Nissan-Renault partnership. What marks this year’s display from those of the past is that these EVs are already on the market. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault Fluence - both fully electric vehicles – can be found already in show rooms in Japan, Europe or the US.  

The most exciting thing for this delegate, however, was the opportunity to test-drive both cars as well as Renault’s ‘Twizy’ – it’s new ultra-compact, ‘about-town’ EV buggy.

The drive through central Durban under normal driving conditions was a compelling demonstration of the maturity of both the Fluence and the Leaf.  

A common – and understandable reaction – from first time drivers (this one included) was that the cars just “feel normal”.

There are no concessions in terms of comfort, ride, handling or appearance, and both cars have a range of approximately 180 kilometers. Maybe not enough for that long weekend drive, but more than sufficient to cover the 27 kilometer daily commute of the average European driver.

And the Twizy? Well apart from having a name (and arguably an appearance) more suited to an episode of the Teletubbies, this is an incredibly fun and practical city vehicle.

With a partially enclosed canopy, proper seat-belts and room in the back for either a passenger (albeit a small one) or luggage, the Twizy is intended to compete against scooters and ultra minis, such as the Smart Car.

The Twizy will go on sale in Europe next year, and while it’s clearly not an EV that is likely to be to everyone’s taste, as a mobility solution for crowded streets and high fuel prices, it will likely have considerable appeal for many commuters looking for something safer than a scooter and massively more economical than a car.

As negotiators move towards a satisfactory conclusion in Durban, the clever clean-tech engineering from the likes of Nissan and Renault show there is much to remain optimistic about. 

Further reading

Damian Ryan, Senior Policy Manager, The Climate Group, is writing news and analysis throughout COP17, and providing a more in-depth post-COP Briefing after the events. Keep up to date from daily round-ups on our website and by following him on Twitter during COP17.

Our international policy teams are have also commented on key regional positions in the lead-up to Durban; read about AustraliaChina,EuropeIndia and the US.

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