Is An Electric Scoot Quad (Nee Renault Twizy) Car-Sharing's Urban Future?

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In San Francisco, driving a bright-red tandem two-seat electric Renault Twizy gets you noticed--by everyone from sweet little old ladies to skate punks.

Even on Castro Street. On Halloween.

We spent a weekend with the low-speed electric vehicle, which is just being added to the Scoot Networks fleet of electric scooters on a test basis.

DON'T MISS: Renault Twizy Electric Minicar First Drive Report: Video (Apr 2012)

The startup company, whose electric-vehicle sharing service right now is limited to San Francisco, calls the test a "beta"--of course--reflecting the local Silicon Valley culture.

The city itself, with dense and livable neighborhoods spread across numerous hills, is clearly better suited for electric scooter sharing than the bike-sharing seen in New York and other flatter cities.

Scoot offered Green Car Reports the chance to test a so-called "Scoot Quad," actually a Renault Twizy with Nissan badges pasted on. (The Renault logo was visible under the Scoot badge in the center of the steering wheel.)

Scoot Quad (nee Renault Twizy) tested in San Francisco, Oct 2015

Scoot Quad (nee Renault Twizy) tested in San Francisco, Oct 2015

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After downloading the Scoot Network app and sitting through 35 separate short videos on how to use its electric scooters--which are its main vehicles--we were able to unlock a Quad named Qwerty and put about 15 miles on it.

The Scoot app lets users reserve the vehicle, and then unlocks it remotely, once the user tells the app he or she is ready to travel.

The door pivots toward the front of the little vehicle, allowing it to be opened even with cars passing by, and sliding into the single front seat requires a few contortions for an almost-6-foot-tall man.

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Inside and on the road, the Scoot Quad (nee Renault Twizy) is exactly halfway between an electric scooter and a very small, basic automobile.

The experience of driving (riding?) it is somewhat similar to that of an ATV, with all the engine noise replaced by some obvious motor whine.

Scoot has made several modifications, including clear Plexiglass panels at the front and bottom to turn the horizontal side barrier into a proper door.

Scoot Quad (nee Renault Twizy) tested in San Francisco, Oct 2015

Scoot Quad (nee Renault Twizy) tested in San Francisco, Oct 2015

Enlarge Photo

The left windshield pillar has an adjustable clamp bracket on it to hold the user's smartphone, which displays the car's operating info--range, speed, etc.--during travel, and also serves as the ultimate on/off switch.

There's also a rotating knob to turn the car on once the Scoot system unlocks the car, indicated by four beeps from the car.

Lights, horn , and turn signals are on one stalk behind the wheel to the left; wipers, windshield washer, and a defrost button are on its counterpart to the right.

MORE: Renault To Return To N America With Twizy Low-Speed Electric Car?

The seat is fixed in place, with a conventional shoulder harness. it's comfortable enough for the short stints that any vehicle limited to 25 mph will be used for.

The side mirrors are fixed in place on the door side bars, but the cabin lacks even a single cubby, bin, or cupholder, meaning even backpacks have to slide around on the floor or rear seat.

On the road, the Scoot Quad's ride is somewhere between firm and harsh--closer to a scooter than a car--especially on some of San Francisco's rougher and more broken pavement. Potholes can be tooth-jarring.

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