Nissan Planning Electric City Car Rival To Renault's Twizy

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Buoyed by the quiet European success of the Renault Twizy electric city car, the French firm's Japanese partner Nissan is considering its own diminutive electric vehicle.

That's according to Etienne Henry, Nissan's head of product strategy and planning.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Henry said Nissan's vehicle would improve on the Twizy's concept, combining the compactness and agility of a motorcycle with proper weatherproofing and protection--something the Twizy can't claim to possess.

Renault sold over 9,000 examples of its tiny Twizy city car in 2012 (via Best Selling Cars Blog), despite being sold in Europe alone.

For comparison, that's over 1,000 units more than Mitsubishi sold of the i-MiEV electric car, despite Mitsubishi offering that vehicle in American, European and Asian markets.

Its relative popularity stems not only from its low price--just under that of typical city cars, just greater than that of larger scooters--but also the availability of a base model with restricted power, which can be driven in some European countries without a license, and its compact, city-beating dimensions.

The regular Twizy tops 50 mph and achieves between 30-50 miles of range, but its pared-down body with only vestigial doors has been criticized by some as unsuitable for less clement climates. Nissan's car--which may not be dissimilar to the 2009 Land Glider concept--would feature enclosed wheels and a fully-enclosed cabin, for proper weather protection.

Henry admire's the Twizy's mix of scooter and car characteristics, but adds that "there are optimizations possible with this kind of vehicle".

He also told Automotive News Europe that addressing congestion in fast-growing cities is becoming a priority, and the new car would answer this with compactness and space-efficiency.

Nissan already runs a fleet of re-badged Renault Twizy models in Japan, known as the New Mobility Concept. While not in full production, it's now clear the small fleet is being tested as exploration for the company's own new model.


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Comments (11)
  1. saw this car in Yokohama during our trip. very cool concept and would be great as an inner city shuttle fleet.

  2. I still don't understand why Renault insisted on not giving the Twizy proper windows to begin with. Good that Nissan is doing it from start. Now let's hope that they won't be fool enough to offer it only without the battery. At least in Spain, this issue has been a major deal breaker for potential Twizy buyers. For some it is still a good deal, but others are concerned about being looked for life in a battery leasing contract.

  3. Exactly what I thought when I first saw the Twizy.
    If I want a vehicle that can only do 50 mph and 30 miles without windows, I'll buy a scooter.

  4. I also thought the lack of side windows didn't make any sense, until I realized that this was the cheapest and simplest way of getting rid of one problem: climate control.

    Fully closing the cabin would imply some minimum amount of ventilation and heat, if only just to keep the windshield from fogging up. On such a small vehicle, electric heat is likely to impact range measurably, so bigger batteries could be needed...

    It looks like Renault gave more consideration to cost, weight and complexity than comfort or weather-proofing.

    If only for diversity, I'm glad to see Nissan take a slightly different approach...

  5. Just another strange looking EV concept car to further the stereotype that an EV has to be less of a car than a gasoline powered one. Nissan show me a stylish electric sport sedan with a 150 mile range and I will consider it. This ugly duckling makes the Leaf look like a real nice car and the Tesla Model S look like a Rolls Royce.

  6. Horses for courses Mark - the Twizy, and other similarly-sized electric vehicles, are no more aimed at regular car buyers than a maxi-scooter is.

    There are enough proper production electric vehicles on sale now that customers can differentiate between a vehicle blatantly designed for city use only, and a vehicle designed as an electric rival to regular gasoline cars. Renault also offers a subcompact, a compact car and a cargo van in its electric range - I don't see how the Twizy devalues the EV's image in that context.

  7. Better than Renault’s Twizy. But not as good – by far – as what has become known as the New Isetta. Why better? Well, it is inherently safer, more comfortable, better looking and can carry three persons. It is still supposed to be under development.
    Here’s a picture:

  8. Eric - This is the second time (that I know of) you've brought up this "new Isetta", but as yet we've seen nothing more than CAD-modeled images. When - or more likely "if" - it reaches some form of production, then it may be easier to throw around phrases like "better", "more comfortable" and "safer"...

  9. The new Isetta could be just like the "VW" of up and coming electric vehicles. "VW" being vapor ware.

  10. Avoid Twizy flaws!
    Add a back window!
    Add internal shelves for cellphone, tablet and small packages!
    Add more space for 2nd passenger!
    Design removable batteries for future lightweight batteries.
    And as we (eventually) have windows, provide a solar-powered fan to extract hot air from cockpit while parked.

  11. I do like the solar-powered fan idea, Luca!

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