Renault Twizy ZE electric concept at 2009 Frankfurt motor show

Published: 15 September 2009

This is the Renault Twizy ZE concept, just unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. And while it might look mad, Renault has confirmed this 1+1 electric city car will go into production in 2011 essentially unchanged.

I’m stunned – tell me all about the Renault Twizy ZE concept

The Twizy ZE is a zero-emissions ‘car’ designed for urban transportation, with a tiny 2.3m length and a mere 3m turning circle. And because the two passengers sit in tandem it’s also only 1.13m wide.

There are no doors – negating the need for energy-sapping air-con – but the whole body of the Twizy acts as a safety cell, and there are lateral airbags too. A four-point harness holds the driver in place, while the rear passenger has a traditional three-point seatbelt and perches on a seat built in to the roof.

Don’t worry about it wobbling over though – the lithium-ion batteries are located beneath the two seats to keep the centre of gravity low. The batteries power a 15kW (20hp) electric motor that produces 51lb ft, giving the 420kg rear-wheel drive Twizy the performance of a 125cc motorbike, Renault claims. Top speed is 47mph, there’s a 62-mile range, and hexagonal fairings and blue and white hubcaps cover the 13-inch wheels, so the Twizy appears to glide along.

Anything else I should know about Renault Twizy ZE?

Honeycomb clusters at the front and rear act as lights and create ‘smileys’ to communicate with other road users, and a Lotus flower on the dashboard depicts the remaining range of the Twizy. The petals close as the range decreases, so when it’s dead so is your battery. The Twizy also has a 57-litre boot, plus two 3-litre cubbies either side of the steering wheel.

With a government incentive, expect to pay around £12k come 2011.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy