Renault Twizy Concept Still Has Those Square Wheels

Illustration for article titled Renault Twizy Concept Still Has Those Square Wheels

Not content to bring just the kinda-weird Renault Zeo ZE concept, the crazy Frenchmen went bonkers with the crazy square-wheeled Renault Twizy ZE electric concept. It's almost weirder than the Peugeot BB1. Almost.

We're starting to sound like a broken record played during the Frankfurt Motor Show, but the Twizy ZE concept is an all-electric car, sports a 20 HP motor with 51 lb-ft of torque, lithium ion batteries and a top speed of 47 MPH and a range of 62 miles. Boring, boring, boring.


What isn't boring is the crazy-interesting form factor. It's an upright bubbly car with fully-faired wheels, tons of glass all around. It's at least visually engaging, even though it's powertrain puts us to sleep.

* Twizy Z.E. Concept is an innovative response to the challenge of urban mobility. With its fourwheel chassis, Twizy Z.E. Concept offers the driver and passenger – seated one behind the other – an all-electric means of transport which produces no CO2 emissions.
* Twizy Z.E. Concept is compact, nimble and practical – everything you need in city traffic.
* The wraparound bodywork creates a safe, reassuring cocoon which offers first class protection for both the driver and the passenger.
* Power comes from a 15kW electric motor which develops 70Nm of torque, making it versatile and easy to drive. The acceleration performance of Twizy Z.E. Concept in urban and suburban traffic is comparable to that of a 125cc motorbike.


Twizy Z.E. Concept is an all-electric vehicle aimed primarily at busy city dwellers who need to pick their way through the urban jungle. Every day, they juggle work commitments with a busy social life, so efficiency, speed and simplicity are key.

The ultra-compact dimensions of Twizy Z.E. Concept (2.30m in length, and just 1.13m wide) ensure that it is nimble enough for urban use. The four-wheel arrangement, open bodywork and a seat format which puts the driver and passenger behind one another express Twizy Z.E. Concept's distinctive character.


For its occupants, Twizy Z.E. Concept represents a highly practical solution to the problem of urban mobility. With a turning circle of just three metres and a footprint barely larger than that of a scooter, Twizy Z.E. Concept is easy to park in town. At the wheel, easy, agile handling ensures that it rarely gets stuck in traffic, while the four wheels and low centre of gravity provide excellent stability.

Inside, the priority has been to make Twizy Z.E. Concept easy to drive. Data is easy for the driver to take in, with displays located at eye level at the base of the windscreen, and grouped in honeycomb shape clusters which are easy to differentiate. For the passenger, getting into the rear seat is simple: the seatback is attached to the roof of the vehicle, allowing the lower part of the seat to pivot. The rear seat can even be adjusted to suit the passenger's height: the seat cushion can be turned over to become a booster cushion and afford a child better visibility. When the cushion is used as a booster in this way, it frees up a load volume of 10 litres, as a complement to the initial 50 litres, and in complement to the 3 litres provided by the cubbies on either side of the steering wheel.

Twizy Z.E. Concept provides optimum levels of safety. The bodywork doesn't just protect the occupants from poor weather; it is also far more visible in traffic to other road users and effectively constitutes a safety cell. A deformable structure protects occupants in the event of a frontal impact while lateral reinforcement bars provide protection in the case of an impact from the side. The retention systems include a four-point harness for the front seat and a three-point seatbelt at the rear, plus a driver airbag and two lateral airbags.


With its futuristic, pearlescent white bodywork, Twizy Z.E. Concept clearly belongs to a new era of urban mobility. As opposed to a conventional car, the body colour wheel fairings are not spherical but octagonal, and cover the tyres entirely. Along with the pearlescent white and blue hub caps, they form a pleasing, harmonious design in which the wheels can no longer be seen rotating. Instead, the only visible movement is that of the hub caps, so Twizy Z.E. Concept appears to glide gracefully and silently, along the road.

In keeping with this fresh approach to mobility, Twizy Z.E. Concept offers its occupants a new, simple and reassuring environment. The front and rear ends of Twizy Z.E. Concept are equipped with a luminous matrix display, the honeycomb-shaped diodes of which allow the driver to interrelate with his or her immediate surroundings. In addition to serving as headlights and rear lights, these diodes can also produce 'smileys' which change expression as a function of the message the driver wishes to communicate.

Inside, the cabin is brightly lit thanks to the bodywork's extensive glazed surface. The blue and white colour scheme creates a soothing atmosphere which isolates the passengers from the stress of urban activity. Optimizing the vehicle's range is simple and worry-free, with a poetic touch: remaining range is depicted by a lotus flower on the dashboard, with petals that close progressively as the range decreases.

Twizy Z.E. Concept is powered by a 15kW (20hp) electric motor. This develops 70Nm of torque, and combines comfort with responsive performance at all engine speeds. Twizy Z.E. Concept can accelerate at a similar rate to a 125cc bike, and pulls away briskly from standstill. With a top speed of 75kph, Twizy Z.E. Concept will also be in its element in suburban traffic. The energy available onboard Twizy Z.E. Concept serves just one purpose – mobility. The open chassis calls for neither heating nor climate control, both of which consume a significant amount of energy. This, coupled with the vehicle's low weight (it tips the scales at just 420kg, complete with batteries), contributes directly to Twizy Z.E. Concept's range which can reach 100km.

The lithium-ion batteries for Twizy Z.E. Concept are located beneath the two seats. They are charged by means of an extendible cable located behind the Renault logo at the front. This cable can be plugged into a 220V 10A or 16A domestic socket, and will fully charge the batteries in just three and a half hours.

Twizy Z.E. Concept is the forerunner of one of the all-electric mobility solutions that Renault will introduce from 2011.


Type Electric

Transmission type

Direct drive with reducer and

forward/reverse inverter

Maximum power EEC (kW / hp) 15 / 20

Maximum torque EEC (Nm) 70


Type Lithium-ion

Range 100km


Rims (inches) 13

Length (mm) 2,303

Width (mm) 1,132

Height (mm) 1,476

Wheelbase (mm) 1,695

Front / rear track (mm) 944 / 944

Front / rear overhang (mm) 304 / 304

Unladen weight (kg) 420

Tyres 135/80 R13


Aerodynamic performance (CdA) 0.63

Top speed (kph) 75

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