If electric cars are going to figure largely in the UK’s transport future, this might be a good time for a scenic holiday in Scotland, as that will be an excellent way to get acquainted with one of the most progressive models, the Renault Twizy. First launched in 2009, the open-sided electric mini-car could be described as ‘space-age cute’ and from all reports, it’s a lot of fun to drive.
The Eco Travel Network (ETN), a not-for-profit company that owns and insures a fleet of Twizys for hire, has been operating in Wales’ Breton Beacon National Park with considerable success, and the company just won the very first Green Transport Prize. That competition is run by Edinburgh College, partnering with St. Andrews University, Edinburgh Napier University and Southeast Scotland Transport Partnership, and the prize is £50k.
ETN plans to use that prize money to expand their boundaries across the border and offer visitors to Scotland the same low cost, no-pollution personal transport that will take them to the most scenic spots whilst offering a new and undeniably fun driving experience. The cars are lightweight but carefully engineered for stability; Autocar’s review notes that the Twizy’s handling is “. . . fun but also benign enough for particularly inexperienced drivers.”
ETN director Dr. Alison Kidd believes that the Twizy and its like are ideal for tourists in rural areas; they can be powered by sustainable energy sources which are abundant in many areas of Wales and Scotland. The ETN’s next goal is to produce a more rugged version of the current vehicle, one that can handle rougher terrain, steeper hills maybe even seriously inclement weather.
Dr. Kidd also maintains that it’s possible to change people’s attitudes about this unconventional mode of transport; she says the trick is to make it fun. When a novice tries out the vehicle and the experience is a treat, the word is going to spread and more people are going to give it a try.
The Renault Twizy has a lot going for it in the fun department; it can travel up to 50mph for up to 50 miles without recharging – and recharging is part of the fun. Stations are available at numerous pubs, cafes and tourist attractions, even a castle or two.