By on March 29, 2012

Renault will start selling their Twizy electric vehicle in the United Kingdom, and the new vehicle is causing some headaches for UK regulators, who will have to establish a new vehicle category for it.

Limited to 28 mph, the Twizy would be classified as a new type of quadricycle due to its small size and 772 lb curb weight. 16 year olds would have to pass some kind of knowledge and practical exam, but they wouldn’t need a driver’s license to operate a Twizy.

While the Twizy would only cost $9,863, Renault’s Andy Heiron said that insurance premiums (which are exorbitantly high for young drivers in the UK) could be as high as $6363 for drivers under the age of 18 – though they would be heavily reduced as drivers got older. As novel as the concept of a city car for young people may be, the astronomical insurance figures will kill this thing long before the goofy appearance, or the reduced costs of a scooter begin to come in to play.

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31 Comments on “You Won’t Need A License To Drive This Renault...”

  • avatar
    A is A

    “While the Twizy would only cost $9,863”

    “Only” you say?.

    You can buy a really nice used car for that money.

    Or ten new mopeds.

    • 0 avatar

      “You can buy a really nice used car for that money.”

      Sure. You can say that about any vehicle though – and eventually the Twizy will be available on the used market. Renault’s smallest vehicle starts at £10,350 (new) .. so I don’t know how many “really nice used” cars are available that compete with the £6,690 Twizy 45.

      Twizy 45 MSRP includes VAT. Battery lease (something that has to be mentioned when discussing price) is £45/month. A Kawasaki Versys motorcycle is £6,549 including VAT. (US Versys is $7900 before taxes). Perhaps a better comparison, a Suzuki Burgman 125cc scooter is £3,465 including VAT.

      Probably the most relevant point is that you can drive the Twizy in areas in London that are restricted emissions. And for all the ills of leasing a battery, depreciation on an EV excluding the battery should be pretty light. Points of failure and maintenance are greatly reduced in an EV.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    “Only $9863”


    • 0 avatar

      that’s the UK market which is expensive on everything

      isn’t it 6,000 pound sterling? that’s not enough to buy the cheapest gasoline supermini?

    • 0 avatar

      European car prices are nuts and they are not that expensive in this class of vehicles. Besides it is a car for which you don’t need a driving license but it doesn’t scream “I can’t get a driving license”.

  • avatar

    this would be exempt from congestion charges, unlike most used cars in the UK at that price point

    looks like the biggest competition for this is a used Smart car.

  • avatar

    This looks like a real GEM. Actually, it looks like a GEM NEV minus the passenger capacity. On a per mile basis, these were very expensive vehicles. IIRC, they were about $8,000 new. Putting 2,000 miles on one before giving up and taking more than $5,000 in depreciation was rare. Here’s a listing for an early one, but the asking price is typical of models much newer:

    • 0 avatar

      The Twizy actually seats two-people, one behind the other. Also there is two versions of Twizy, one that is 5hp and goes 28mph, and the other that goes to 50mph. There is a €1,000 or so difference between the two.

      The whole point of the cheaper version of the car is that it can fall under the “B1” quadricycle category in the UK, which doesn’t require a drivers licence and can be driven by 17 year olds (16 year olds if they qualify for Disability Living Allowance).

      Not sure how many teenagers want to be seen around town in a GEV. Also, the back-to-back slimmer seating arrangement is more ideal for urban environments where these vehicles will be parking in motorcycle spaces.

      Its still a question if all but the smallest GEV will even qualify for the B1 category. The Renault uses lithium ion batteries lifted from the Nissan Leaf, which keeps its weight down to 450 kgs (sub-1,000lbs) allowing it to meet the weight requirements. Also, the GEV has a 35 mile range, the Renault can go 62 miles.

      • 0 avatar

        The linked article says that the battery leases for $72 a month for up to 390 miles a month. This is a toy for the rich, which is fine. It must not be confused with a real means of transportation.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s sufficient mileage for a 10+ mile drive every day.

        There are lots of people for whom that would be useful, especially in more densely populated areas.

        It’s not a replacement for a traditional car, but I don’t see any reason why it would not be a “real means of transportation” in an urban or appropriately laid out suburban area.

        I live 1.4 miles from work, 2 miles from the gym/park, and <1 mile from the grocery store. This would complete my daily loop with margin to spare.

        I still don't want one, but it would most certainly function as a means of transportation for me and lots of other people with similar setups.

      • 0 avatar

        Sure, a 28 mph / 62 mile range car won’t work for everyone. But I don’t see how it could be characterized as a “toy for the rich” — if the top speed and range work for you, then it’s cheaper to buy and operate than the most economical small diesel car Renault makes.

        The battery leases vary in length and mileage; at the low end, a 12 month 4500 mile/year lease (87 miles/week) is £55/month. At the high end, a 60 month 9000 mile/year lease (173 miles/week) is £57/month.

        Monthly operating costs (assuming 750 miles/month):
        * £57 battery rental
        * £12 electricity
        * £834/year to operate

        A £13,720 Renault Clio 1.5L diesel gets 4.3L/100km (urban) or 66 mpg (UK).

        Monthly operating costs (assuming 750 miles/month):
        * £72 fuel (51.6L @ £1.40/liter diesel)
        * £867/year to operate

      • 0 avatar

        I see plenty of “B1” cars so there is definitely a market for those cars.

  • avatar

    this is scary, but this is what happens when you let the world population rise to 7,000,000,000 (from about 3,000,000,000 50 years ago, and on its way to 10 in 2050). We need to stabilize our own population if we want to avoid these penalty boxes, and these prices to own and run cars, and we are still the fastest growing western population, now 310,000,000, moving towards 440,000,000 by 2050 (Pew Research Center, 2008), mostly due to mass immigration, but if people like Rick Santorum get their way, native increase will be making a big contribution to an even bigger population, as well.

    • 0 avatar

      And this has what exactly to do with the article? I ask because you’re the same guy who complained when Schreiber made a snarky, off-topic comment about the President in one of his recent articles.

      I’m no fan of politicians like Santorum, but don’t complain about off-topic political rhetoric if you’re going to turn around and spout rhetoric of your own.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    In general, I find that the EV industry is approaching the market a$$ backwards. Better they imitate how Honda started in the US in the 1960s with cheap, low grade 50 cc motorcycles. While little more than toys, they proved hugely popular because of their non threatening appearance and very low price. Honda sold a ton of them and began their renlentless climb up market into motorcycles and autos.
    EV makers would do well to imiitate this business plan instead of producing expensive niche vehicles that will probably not succeed commercially.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re doing that. Well, some companies are. Brammo has had a decent electric commuter bike for a while, and has a nice-looking electric sportbike in the works. Zero has some nice off-road bikes — very useful for trails that have recently banned gasoline engines. Honda is putting an electric motorcycle in the TTZero race, making them the first major manufacturer to jump in. (Electric motorcycle racing is particularly interesting because they don’t have the same chassis restrictions that you see in MotoGP or World Superbike or whatever; rules aside, MotoCzysz has a suspension setup that you just can’t physically do with a gas engine and fuel tank).

      Battery capacity vs. volume and weight is, as ever, an issue, but it’s a bit less of an issue when your vehicle weighs a few hundred pounds rather than a few thousand.

  • avatar

    Does it include the straps on the back to hold both sets of golf clubs?

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    The problem here is that Renault seem to be betting the farm on electric vehicles. Now Renault don’t have a great reputation for reliability, even if they are trying hard to up their game. The oily bits are usually pretty good, but the electric bits are a disaster. So a Renault with no oily bits and only electric bits would seem to be something best avoided.

  • avatar

    The idea of young motorists getting their hands on a vehicle without adequate training and being able to demonstrate a minimum level of practical competence fills me with dread.

    When the young driver of a Twizy finally gets around to graduating up to a Twingo, they will have learned so many bad habits that they will probably require more training from their ADI than someone with no prior experience to pass their test.

  • avatar

    How does the “unlicensed” version work legally in UK? Anyone know?

    Can people who have had their licenses yanked still drive these ?
    Are people who drive these required to carry liability insurance?
    Are these going to be plated?

    My biggest fear is these end up like bicycles with no responsibility needed for the driver…..except these can kill peds/motorcyclists/bicyclists a lot easier in an accident.

    • 0 avatar

      They have the same rules as mopeds. Don’t know the British rules but here they need to be insured and plated. You also need a license to drive them but that license is much easier to get than a real driving license.

      • 0 avatar

        In many jurisdictions “here” mopeds are not licensed if they are under a certain displacement… I think it is 50cc? Not sure what, if any, restrictions there are on small 4-wheel vehicles like golf carts.

      • 0 avatar

        Here only the electrically assisted bikes don’t require an insurance (and i could be wrong on that). This definitely would need one in the civilized parts of the EU

    • 0 avatar

      To ride a motorcycle or scooter under 125cc in the UK, you need to do a Compulsory Basic Training course (CBT). These courses are privately administered and don’t amount to much more than wobbling around some cones in an empty car-park.

      After passing a CBT, you are required to display L-plates, wear a helmet, have valid tax, insurance and MOT but are not subjected to any more tests of ability for 2 years when the CBT course has to be repeated. You can, of course elect to take your practical test before the 2 year CBT expires and ride unrestricted bikes.

  • avatar

    I dont think this is really intended for kids, grownups will be all over them as a city car (from what I read in the european electric forums).. much more dignified than a moped but they need to fit some doors for when it rains.

    I believer there are also subsidies that are not mentioned in the article.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    A few things…

    1) You can get an old beater in the UK for a cheap, cheap price these days.

    2) If that fails, you can get a scooter.

    3) If even that fails, you can take a heaping load of public transportation for the overall ownership costs of this machine. Plus have enough coinage to vacation in Spain and enjoy the rioting.

    Who said toy the rich? Ding! Ding! Ding! Two points for you!

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a rich man’s toy if it goes unused because it doesn’t meet their needs, or it requires the purchase and maintenance of a second vehicle that would not otherwise have been purchased.

      Operational costs should be significantly lower than your (or my) Insight .. and the purchase price isn’t substantially higher than I paid for my MY2000 a few years back.

      I’m curious whether people that are actually shopping these (not the commentariat here) are considering this more as an alternative to a powered two wheeled vehicle, a beater, or a new small car.

    • 0 avatar

      This is definitely not a toy for the rich. It is for people who can’t get a driver license (for non-alcoholic reasons). And i doubt that a beater is cheaper for people who aren’t mechanics

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