Renault Twizy Arrives, LTA Undecided

BY Azfar Hashim

So the electric Twizy is here and local Renault distributor, Wearnes Automotive, is eager to launch it - problem is, they could not…

Photos: Azfar Hashim

Meet the Twizy, Renault's answer to personal mobility for urban dwellers like you and I. It sounds like a brilliant idea: Firstly, it takes less space on the road and carparks (one parking lot can fit three Twizys). Secondly, it is environmentally-friendly with zero emissions (like the other offering, the Fluence Z.E). Thirdly, the Twizy only needs 3 1/2 hours for a full charge, with a range of 100 km (a typical Singaporean driver only drives 40 kilometres daily).

And on top of that, it has a maximum speed of 80 km/h; adequate for our roads that has a maximum speed limit of 70 km/h, and 90 km/h on all expressways anyway.

But here is the major problem: LTA does not know what to classify it as. After all, it works more like a motorcycle. Only issues are it has (a) four wheels and (b) a steering wheel. If LTA puts it into the motorcycle category, then it will probably (news from the grapevine) cost us only $20k - with COE. If it is thrown into Category A, the Twizy will then have a sticker price of $90k; and that will be deemed near impossible for our consumers as that price could get you a, well, 'real car'.

The Twizy does not seem much, but if you were to look at it from a fresh perspective, it is an important product for Renault and Singapore. This small little thing will be the one to allow more young, hip drivers craving for a personal set of wheels the possibility of having their dream come true; the price makes sense, on top of the different subsidies coming it's way. And let's not forget fleet buyers too. This will also allow more players to penetrate our rather limited market.

The downside? Motorcyclists will be unhappy due to the shrinkage in COE availability, which will definitely push the already high certificate prices even higher.

We had a short run in the Renault Twizy and from initial impression, it (again) makes sense. Ok, so charging it will be a bit of a challenge, but if there are enough demands and lobbies from various groups, this will encourage the relevant authorities to make charging stations even more widely available. It gets up to speed rather well, is easy to manoeuvre despite missing any sort of power steering (Renault Sport Technologies developed the suspension, mind you), and best of all, looks quirky.

Excuse the lack of air-con (heard of portable mini fans?) and radio (iPod and earphones, anyone?) though. Safety wise, all-round disc brakes come standard, front airbag plus four-point harness seatbelt for front and three-point harness for rear passenger. In terms of practicality, two glove boxes (3.5-litre and 5-litre) is placed on the dashboard (12V power supply included), and a 55-litre storage compartment behind the passenger's seat.

Interested? You have to wait (patiently) though. In the mean time, the wait for LTA's response continues…