Renault Twizy in New York City. Photos: Renault Official on FlickrEnlarge Photo
Four of Europe's six mass-market carmakers have long sold cars in North America.
The exceptions, for a quarter of a century, have been the two French makers: PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault.
Now it appears that Renault may be considering a return to the continent, using its Twizy low-speed electric car--and doing it via North America's largest French-speaking region.
DON'T MISS: Renault Twizy Electric Minicar First Drive Report: Video (Apr 2012)
That would be the Canadian province of Québec, where a Twizy will appear at the 2015 Québec City International Auto Show when it opens to the public on Tuesday.
According to Le Soleil (published online by LaPress.ca), the display indicates a possible return of the French brand to North America.
Renault's Emmanuelle Desbrosse, who runs the company's electric-vehicle unit, confirmed to Le Soleil by e-mail that it had submitted the Twizy for approval to Transport Canada, in response to what she termed many requests.
The company would offer both the two-seat version--with its seats in tandem--and the one-seat version for deliveries, known as the Twizy Cargo.
Renault Twizy Cargo electric vanEnlarge Photo
A second Renault electric vehicle, the Kangoo ZE small van, was not designed to "Federalize," or meet North American safety standards, said Daniel Bédard, an assistant director of automotive advisory services in the Québec office of the Canadian Auto Association.
But as a low-speed or neighborhood electric vehicle, the Renault Twizy has a far lower bar to clear if Renault finds or sets up a distributor.
Such vehicles need little more than lights, wipers, brakes, and seat belts to be legal, and many are permitted to operate on city streets in various towns, states, and provinces.
Laws vary by region, however, presenting a complicated regulatory environment in which the cars are legal to use on public roads in some areas, but not in others.
Renault's last North American foray ended when it sold its entire U.S. operation--the former AMC--to Chrysler in 1987.
All Renault-branded cars were subsequently renamed Eagle (that brand too ultimately vanished in 1998).
The other French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën, departed soon after, confirming its withdrawal from the North American market in 1991.
But PSA is rumored to be mulling a return to the large and lucrative North American market, using its chic and stylish new line of upscale Citroën DS models.
Citroen DS5 HybridEnlarge Photo
Meanwhile, Carlos Ghosn, who is CEO of the Renault Nissan Alliance, has steadfastly ruled out a return of Renault to North America--in statements made in 2009 and again in 2012.