Paris Show: Renault Debuts Production Twizy, the Electric Scooter Car

Welcome to the Twizy, Renault's third model in its Zero Emissions lineup after the Fluence Z.E. and Kangoo Van Z.E. The little city car pod is an all-electric mix between a scooter and a car, allowing for clean and efficient city driving thanks to its 20-horsepower / 42 lb-ft (57 Nm) electric motor. That helps it reach a top speed of 47 mph after it has charged for 3.5 hours.

Renault plans to build the tandem two-seat Twizy in Valladolid, Spain for a late-2011 European release (early 2012 in the UK), and orders can be placed online right now at the official Z.E. site. Aimed at urbanites looking for an adorable second car, Renault says it may also be suitable for teen drivers as a pre-car car. How? it may be drivable in some countries with a lower top speed of 28 mph and without a driving license (feel free to discuss that below).

Since the Twizy is a very open car, additional door panels will be available to seal the lower area should harsh weather show up. For practicality, storage is located under the rear seat (31 liters that's expandable to 55 liters) and on either side of the steering wheel (3 liters). Behind the steering wheel you'll see a display housing an "econometer", available range, and other necessary stats.

Safety features include the collapsible pod set within the four wheels, a driver airbag, and 4- and 3-point harnesses (front and rear, respectively).

The three Twizys shown at Paris were designed by Renault to emphasize the customization possibilities available to consumers; they include the Twizy Dot Dot (providing an "emphasis on elegance"), the Circuit (with a sci-fi touch), and the Totem (the automotive equivalent of a tribal tattoo). There will be nine more customized virtual Twizys online, with the highest-rated design getting its own limited edition when the car debuts.

Here's a list from Renault describing who the typical Twizy buyer will be:

-Busy, car-owning city dwellers looking for a second vehicle
-Younger drivers interested in a safe way to gain experience in traffic
-City dwellers looking for a stylish yet particularly practical vehicle
-Sensitive to new design trends

If Renault's PR guys have you locked down and pretty well described, then the Twizy may just be for you.

By Phil Alex