The CEO seems to have set this goal without taking into account the basic scientific parameters that inform his plan. The electric cars Renault and Nissan have rolled out so far are standard automobiles aside from the addition of batteries, and can travel no more than modest distances despite those expensive and heavy batteries. The cars also consume so much electricity that they can hardly claim to be an environmental boon.
Ghosn didn't consider a solid understanding of electric power an important step as he journeyed into the field of hybrid technology. His company offers products such as the Nissan Leaf, an electric car with about the same operating range of an urban subway system but at the price of a medium-sized car with a far greater range.
The urban Twizy, on the other hand, provides a more modest and plausible picture of how electric power can be reasonably applied at its current stage of development. The Twizy can travel 60 to 100 kilometers (40 to 60 miles), which is certainly sufficient for such a vehicle, and a lithium battery with a capacity of about six kilowatt hours provides all the power it needs.
Heavy electric cars developed from conventional automobiles, on the other hand, consume more than twice that amount of electricity and recharging them takes eight hours and robust safeguards. The Twizy requires just three and a half hours to recharge and can use a normal electrical outlet, making it a far smaller burden on the power grid.
In short, in purely physical terms, Renault's little quad is actually the more convincing application of electric power, when compared, for example, with electric sports cars such as the Tesla.
Now, Renault needs to succeed in making its pared-down vehicle the latest elite trend -- the Twizy is not a cheap, when measured by its capacity. The base price of €7,690 for the 80-kph version includes neither the half-high doors nor the battery. As with its other models, Renault plans to rent out the Twizy's rechargeable batteries for a monthly fee ranging between €50 and €72, depending on the contract.
Calculated across an assumed lifespan of 10 years, that means the Twizy actually costs more than some full-fledged compact cars.
Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein