Will Open-Air Renault Twizy Electric Car Threaten New Smart ForTwo?

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Renault Twizy first drive, Ibiza

Renault Twizy first drive, Ibiza

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Smart might have just unveiled the 2013 Smart ForTwo, but it doesn't take a genius to work out it's little more than a facelift with some new trim materials.

While the car is gaining evolutionary improvements, Smart really needs the next generation of ForTwo, currently being co-developed with French maker and electric car specialist Renault.

It's all good news for small-car fans, but Renault and Smart are already showing signs of treading on each others toes with the next generation of minicars.

According to The Motor Report, Renault has already canned its own version of the ForTwo, which was set to be badged Twingo and sit below a co-developed four-seat version.

The latter would also be badged Twingo in Renault's range, and is set to be known as the ForFour in Smart's range--not to be confused with the stillborn Nissan Micra-based ForFour that Penske had plans to import into the U.S. Like the Penske car though, the proper ForFour is expected to go on sale in the U.S.

Renault says its ForTwo-based city car has been cancelled to avoid a "sales conflict" with the Smart version in Europe, though we suspect Renault also aims to concentrate on its in-house city car, the all-electric Twizy.

Though the Twizy isn't set to go on sale in the U.S, we wonder how much trouble it will cause the ForTwo in some areas of Europe--particularly those with a warmer climate, reducing the disadvantages of the Renault's basic and largely door-less layout.

To counter this, the next ForTwo is expected to grow a little in size, with styling similar to that of the recent For-Us pickup concept. As a result, it may prove more popular than the current model in the U.S, where strong initial sales quickly fizzled out and have remained low ever since.

Whatever happens--and remember, none of Renault's models will make it to the U.S, so Smart only has to worry about the Scion iQ here--we can expect the next generation of minicars to take fuel efficiency and clever packaging to even greater heights.

Not only that, but you can be sure that with Renault's help, the next Smarts will place strong emphasis on electric drivetrains, too.

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