Renault Australia says there is no substitute for the old adage of getting bums on seats when it comes to pushing regulators to open the door for the Twizy down the track.
In relatively short time, the company says, urban-focused vehicles of this type — not quite a car or a motorcycle — could sell somewhere in the thousands, if only they were let in.
The Twizy is classified as a quadricycle in Europe, but as there is no similar category in Australia it is required to conform to local passenger vehicle standards despite performing the job of an electric scooter, hence creating a significant roadblock.
CarAdvice went for a spin last month along with other media, a strategy that is part of what Renault calls connecting with ‘influencers’. But, much as we may occasionally fancy ourselves as a be-all and end-all, media is just the tip of Renault’s influencer iceberg.
See our video and written review of the Twizy here.
The real challenge, says Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar, is getting regulators and politicians familiar with the car, a move the company hopes will give those that call the shots the benefit of personal experience.
“Typically, key influencers are hard to connect with. To get them, take them to a location — because we cant take it [Twizy] to them on the road— it’s part of the slow burn,” he said.
“We’d like to get certainly at this stage, [those] at a state and local level in touch so they understand it. Because, for most people they look at the image and say that’s a wonderful concept car, its not until you experience it that you understand this is a really useful mobility device that could fit into a lot of peoples’ lives.”
Hocevar said the company had been in contact with some within the political sphere about the Twizy and EVs in general, an area where Hocevar says policy makers remain “on the fence”.
Hocevar has for some time been on the front foot pushing for government help such as subsidisation for electric vehicles. Overseas, Renault is an EV leader with cars such as the Zoe and Kangoo ZE, as well as the now-failed venture with battery swap company Better Place and its Fluence ZE.
“We’ve been able to have a dialogue with a few, we’re working with some more meetings at the moment… I think when it comes to EVs full-stop at the moment they’re very much on the fence.. .
“There’s nothing committal, but once they’ve experienced it it’s much easier for them to take a position…
“And to be honest it’s better they take a position, even those that take a position to the negative, that means you can start a debate, but when everybody is sort of sitting in no man’s land, it’s impossible to even have a debate about it.”
Hocevar said he had held meetings with a few other car companies to discuss the matter of quadricycle regulation, and had also helped make introductions between his team and other teams in the industry.
That said, Hocevar was keen to point out that “this doesn’t take up a big percentage of our time, we’ve got other tasks at hand to grow this business in Australia but we do make sure that we’re dedicating time to work on the development of this specific category”.
Asked when he foresaw the Twizy being allowed on local roads, Hocevar was non-committal.
“Right here right now I could not pinpoint a date that I could honestly say that’s going to happen,” he said.
“The sooner the better, and it doesn’t have to happen on a massive scale either, when you go to these events and put the consumer in front of the product, they all see they could see this as part of their lives, [and] the penny just drops.”
The 474kg Twizy is 2338mm long and 1396mm wide (with optional doors fitted). For perspective, that’s around 35cm shorter and 16cm narrower than a 770kg Smart ForTwo.
Mounted beneath the floor, and powering the rear-wheel-drive Twizy, is a synchronous AC electric motor with 13kW of power and 57Nm of torque. Teamed with a 6.1kWh lithium-ion battery and a single-speed reducer-type transmission, the emission-free Renault Sport F1-developed powertrain does 0-45km/h in 6.1 seconds and offers a top speed of 80km/h.