If anyone wondered what right-hand-drive donuts in a really light electric-vehicle looked like, we all may soon find out.

Renault may launch a low-speed version of its battery-electric Twizy in the UK next year in an effort to capitalize on a law allowing for unlicensed drivers for some smaller vehicles, according to UK's Autocar.

The EV, called the Twizy 45, would be able to be legally driven by unlicensed drivers who are at least 16 years old if the EV is limited to a top speed of 28 miles per hour (that's 45 kph and gives the car its name) and weighs no more than 350 kilograms (770 pounds), or about half the weight of a Smart ForTwo, Autocar reported, citing Andy Heiron, who runs Renault UK's electric-vehicle operations. The EV may cost about £6,200 ($9,900), though a teenager may have to pay another two-thirds of that total during the first year in the form of insurance premiums.

Renault and sister company Nissan have invested a reported $5 billion developing lines of electric vehicles for both companies, including the Nissan Leaf. Nissan's only sold about 600 Leafs in the UK since the model's launch there last spring, Heiron told Autocar, adding that Nissan is considering allowing Leaf buyers to lease the car's battery instead of buying it in order to cut the cost of the car.

The Twizy got some additional attention earlier this week by being included in the new "Plug Into The Positive Energy" exhibit at the L'Atelier Renault stage on Paris's Champs Elysées, where the EV is moved around vertically as part of a so-called "dance routine." Renault this month started selling three variations of the Twizy, with the lowest-price Urban starting at £6,690 ($10,702 U.S. at today's exchange rates) and the top-of-the-line Technic priced at £7,400 ($11,838).


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why does anyone think a battery lease is going to lower the cost of ownership? It can't, any more than total vehicle leasing does. How about leasing the transmission and engine in your next ICE? Makes no sense.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JP
        I base my comments on the figures. It is not wise to generalise, and in fact it can often be more economic to lease depending on your individual circumstances. May who buy finance at least part of the purchase price, so interest on that has to be set against lease costs. In the UK it is usually so advantageous to lease that around 50% of new car purchases are on a lease, with the option to pay the balance when the lease finishes. In the US looking at the lease prices of both the Volt and the Leaf is seems pretty clear that if you normally do not keep your car for more than 3-5 years it is cheaper to lease, with the Leaf starting at $350/mo for instance. In the specific case of battery leasing, You are eliminating the biggest item of depreciation, so instead of the perhaps rather doubtful proposition to the buyer of purchasing a car with an unknown amount of the battery gone which would cost several thousands to replace, you can buy a long lasting car and make arrangements at that point for a battery. The main thing though is that battery costs are falling by around 8% a year, so not only do you avoid depreciation on it but when you do come to buy, or lease another one, the base price is lower. In specific cases it can make more sense to lease rather than buy, and the economics have to be worked through on a case by case basis. Fast depreciating, and rapidly improving technology is an excellent item to lease.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @marco: 'Well, after all that dissertation we have finally reached an agreement that battery leasing is largely a gimmick. ' What an utterly ludicrous spin! Presumably you feel mortgages are a gimmick too, and will never catch on, as they simply make buying houses affordable to the average person? You draw up various far-fetched scenarios to show leasing as an expensive option, whereas anyone with half a brain finances in the most suitable way for themselves. In this country that often means a 3-4 year lease on the car, and you can take out the lease on the battery for exactly the same time. So when the car and battery is handed back, the purchaser of the car can buy without worrying about battery wear, and since you have leased rather than bought you can now go and buy or lease the latest BEV with the latest battery, always assuming that no-one else has meanwhile produced a EasyBat compliant battery so you can simply stick that in to your old car. In what way is being able to buy an electric vehicle for around the same price as a diesel, and then lease the battery and provide electricity for less than you would have been paying for petrol a bad idea? You really want to do something about your prejudices, they are becoming increasingly absurd. Gimmick indeed. How stupid.
          JP
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          "Although theoretically over the long run you shouldn't save anything by leasing" Thank you. Why not lease the whole vehicle if you want to do a lease?
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ Dave Mart Well, after all that dissertation we have finally reached an agreement that battery leasing is largely a gimmick. Whether Renault benefits, or the consumer benefits, is a bit of a gamble on the future, and careful perusal of the fine print in the lease terms and conditions of the lease contract! Under some tax regimes, I can see some benefits to leasing the battery in the Kangoo for business purposes. I was once asked to design a battery lease model for EV transport, by a battery manufacturer. I concluded that unless the vehicle could quickly escalate it's sales figures to really substantial volumes, the economics of battery leasing are not really viable enough to sustain consumer acceptance, without subsidy. Leasing, is not renting! In reality, leasing is just another method of time payment, designed to look like renting for tax purposes. In everyway, leasing must conform to the same financial principles as time payment. ie; Capital cost of battery + overhead = $X + sales costs = $X+profit . ( point of sale). Capital cost of battery + overhead = $X + sales costs = $X+profit + leasing costs + capital retention costs + interest + depreciation + risk + lease profit = $ X+Y. Someone must pay for 'Y' ! Unless the French government is prepared to underwrite the loss, or Renault is building the battery with a massive profit margin, (in which case the outright purchaser is subsidising the lease plan) the consumer must end up paying for 'Y' ! All the rest is just sales talk! In all automotive leases the terms of the residual are always constructed so that the financier always wins. The concept that the customer just hands back the car at the end of lease and the finance company accepts a loss, is a common but erroneous delusion ! And so it must be for batteries. Large corporations do not pay less for finance than individuals with good credit ratings. In fact they pay more. Battery leasing has one more potential drawback. If a Zoe owner decides half way through the contract to sell the car, they must payout the battery in full, as there is no guarantee that the new owner would want, or qualify, to 'take-over' the battery lease. This means that probably only a Renault dealer will buy back the used Zoe. Renault's lease scheme contains many potential, hidden pitfalls, for private buyers. But it does make Renault EV's sound very well priced in the ad's. ! Public confusion about leasing may well ensure that such a scheme will help sell Renault's Zoe. (at least initially).
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          BTW in 3-5 years after battery technology has matured and prices get more stable I likely would not recommend leasing. It just makes sense at the moment. Although theoretically over the long run you shouldn't save anything by leasing, depending on the tax regime, in practise the long run can take an awful long time coming, and you have to look at the deals on offer at the time. From the point of view of reliability alone I would tend to favour leasing for a relatively untested technology. When in addition if you use leasing to bridge for a few years you can probably buy one when you do come to do so for much less than at present it is a no-brainer.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ Dave Mart What an emotive response ! But you are still failing to understand the concept of an automotive lease! Automotive leases, are not rental agreements ! "handing back" the vehicle is never a financially viable option!. Automotive leasing, is just another method of time payment, except you pay the deposit at the end, rather than the beginning. Battery leasing is exactly the same. You own the car, you own the battery. If you sell the car, you must ensure that the purchaser either can take over the battery lease, or is credit worthy enough to assign the payments. If not, you must payout the lease or sell the Zoe without a battery! Selling to a dealer, is always a poor option, unless you're are trading-in. What on earth is so hard to understand about that?
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I hear you saying it is more economic to lease some times but it is not clear to me why. In the 3 to 5 years case, is the purchase price minus the sale price of the used vehicle really more than the sum of the lease payments? Seems dubious. With $350/month for 5 years, that is paying $21000. Just pay that up front and another $6K and you would have owned it. Of course, that may require a bit of a loan so that needs to be factored in. If you don't want to deal with the hassle of buying and then selling the car, I can see people wanting the lease. And maybe with the Quad-zero plan, the Volt is a particularly attractive lease deal. I think there are definitely some attractions to the lease . . . for example with many people, the car company can get much cheaper loan rates than many people today who may have checkered credit ratings. But I also wonder about some of those battery lease deals . . . what happens at the end of the 3 years or 6 years? Do you own the battery? (such that it was really a loan not lease). If you don't own it, are they gonna come take it back? Does anyone actually have plans for removing leased batteries if someone doesn't pay? I guess I need to understand these programs more.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I am certainly not saying that the battery is free in any sense if you lease, but doing so puts most of the hassles over to the company who can avoid all your one-off costs of dealing with depreciation. So if you pay upfront for your battery in the car that might come to £7,000 or so, whereas if you lease in the UK over 3 years, pretty much a normal lease term and one under which cars are often bought, then at £86 pm you would have paid just over £3,000. Your original expenditure of £7,000 would have depreciated though, and you would have paid interest on it if you bought on finance as most people do. Meanwhile falling battery prices might have knocked a couple of grand off of the replacement cost, so that the asset you bought has now depreciated and its replacement costs less. So you have spent £7,000, and depreciated that, actually likely by over 50% if you wanted to sell it as that is the rate on a car, let alone a battery, so depreciation is weighted up front into the first years of purchase. Residuals on the Nissan Leaf are around 45%, which obviously includes the battery. So you have an asset worth £3150, which is actually a high end estimate when a brand new battery with 100% capacity would only cost you £5,000. As for how Renault is doing it, if they make the battery for $400kwh then lease it, they can finance the build costs, and finance for them is a lot cheaper than for a private individual. What enables this is that they are rapidly both increasing production and driving down costs, so if a lot of people choose to hand in their batteries after 3 years they have a problem with loads of partially depleted batteries but not a huge one in relation to the much higher volumes they project at that time. They also have access to facilities to refurbish the batteries, can release them at reduced rates and so on. So Renault likely will make an eventual loss on these early, but comparatively low volume batteries, but as long as their plans work it is some way down the road and comparatively minor.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Spec: As I said it is very much case by case. If you alter your assumptions to a 3 year lease, then you have paid $12,600, which is likely to be less than your depreciation if you had bought, and a lot less hassle than a resale. At that stage you can then go and buy a spanking new electric car with a much improved battery. You really have to look precisely at individual cases, for instance here in the UK the tax structure favours leasing, which is why it accounts for 50% of new cars.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave Mart. Every time the subject of battery leasing comes up you advance these same arguments. When all the terminology and complexity is removed, it comes down to one of two propositions. 1) Renault loses money by offering battery leasing, or, 2) Battery leasing is just a finance plan for part of the cost of purchase, little more than a marketing ploy. The logic is simple, the Zoe costs Renault $X to build, including the cost of the battery. The cost of manufacture must be recovered from the purchaser. Unless Renault can recover the cost of the battery, with interest, over a fixed period by leasing, then Renault is losing money! No matter how you juggle or redefine those dynamics, that must be correct. The only variation could be if Renault, or the French government decided to subsidise the cost of batteries. But someone must pay for the batteries to be produced. The car must have batteries to operate, otherwise the Zoe becomes valueless. Generic battery replacement, would invalidate the Zoe's warranty, and may prove to be a prohibitive cost for the next owner. Depreciation in that case is not avoided, but becomes accelerated. No magic shuffling of figures and terminology, can make the cost of production 'disappear' !
      s
      • 3 Years Ago
      how about the high speed version for the USA
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @s
        Not legal. In the USA, the maximum is 25mph.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          'The EV, called the Twizy 45, would be able to be legally driven by unlicensed drivers who are at least 16 years old if the EV is limited to a top speed of 28 miles per hour' They can limit it to 25mph just as easily, and although not a full road car this is a heck of a lot more safe than most of the NEVs like the G-Wizz.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Buzz kill... ;)
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @EZEE I'd like to see NEVs be allowed to go 35 mph and allowed on roads that go up to 45mph. That would make them more practical.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      And here are the specifications: http://www.easybat.info/fileadmin/documents/D1.1_public_release_version.pdf Two points are particularly relevant to using other batteries in the system: 'The electrical interface is already developed and standard. Its definition shall be carried over. However, it shall be cost reduced.' And: 'The BSS shall use the same communication and CAN interfaces as those used by the vehicle (for both functional data and diagnostic services)'
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bollore have been running behind their schedule on the Bluecar, but it is coming together now and initially at least the plan was to sell them also in NA: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/04/14/bollore-reports-3-300-reservations-for-electric-pininfarina-blue/ If Nissan decide to go that way, it would also be easy for them to produce either the Renault Kangoo ZE or the Zoe in North America. It seems more likely to me that they will produce their own versions, as the two sister companies seem quite internally competitive. The other factor is that most of the European cars are smaller than is usual in the US market. I have no doubt for instance that the electric Golf will go to the States, but the far lighter although still internally pretty commodious Up is doubtful, and that due to it's weight will make a better electric car than the Golf, and has been designed from the ground up for electrification as well as dual fuel CNG.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Apologies to anyone who finds it inappropriate but since the Tips system remains in disrepair and coverage of European electric vehicles here is anyway sparse I will put in a few updates. The biggest news is that the Bollore Bluecar is now available to lease, and is doing so for 300 Euros/month. This is about $400, but VAT will be payable on that so the US equivalent price is perhaps $320/mo. Perhaps the fairest way of thinking about this is that this is around the same as the cheapest Leaf lease in the US at $349/mo For that you get a smaller car, but one with a longer range of around 155 miles on the NEDC cycle. For comparison the Leaf is rated at 109 miles on this cycle, but 73 miles on the EPA, so very roughly this is the first relatively cheap car which would get around 100 miles on the EPA cycle. 'Expressions of interest' in the Bluecar which may convert to sales amount to 7,000. In other Bluecar news the Autolib scheme in Paris now numbers 1,000 vehicles, on it's way to around 3,000 by years end. The Zoe is due in the summer, and has an NEDC range of 130 miles, perhaps 88 miles equivalent on the EPA. Apart from the Leaf and the Fluence ( range 115 miles NEDC, maybe 77 miles EPA ) there is the Renault Maxi ZE, which seats 5 comfortably plus a large cargo/luggage space has an NEDC of 106 miles, perhaps around 71 miles EPA. There are also variants on the Mitsubishi iMiEV by Peugeot and Citroen, and both the latter have reduced their prices in the UK by a stonking £7,000 Other electric cars coming in 2013 or so include the VW Up-e, the VW golf-e, and the BMW i3 The high cost of petrol in Europe means that is is likely that initially there will be more intense competition and so more models in the electric car segment, but it would seem very likely that success might lead to variants being supplied to the states, under their own badge or another.
        Peter
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Badge engineering may be passe in the states (something about the EPA not letting Chrysler use Mitsu to improve your EPA fleet average, but perhaps my memory is wrong) but I don't see anything wrong with one of the 3 bringing in a Renault or Bluecar under their name to give consumers options
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Dave, no need to apologize. I come to depend more on people posting for info than ABG itself. I would love a story on the Aussie blade, for example, and other companies that may be out there. You, 2wheel (on bike stuff) PR, Marco, and others give info and perspective that is always welcome. The fact that they miss easy stuff that can be found simply by clicking on realclearenergy, or intentionally leave out party affiliation (hwhen democrats are involved - if it is a republican they are quite diligent on identification then), is disappointing, and beneath what a site like this should be. Honestly, if it weren't for the people filling in the blanks, I would have deleted this link a long time ago. Keep it up!
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          :D
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          'Keep it up!' At my age, that is perhaps a touch unkind........
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        On the Renault Zoe I had argued that those who do not want to continue leasing the battery could have another bought battery fitted. Others argued that this would be too complicated and invalidate the guarantee, not work properly with the BMS and so on. On thinking about it more since the Zoe uses a Better Place compliant battery it seems clear that as long as the replacement battery complies with their standards then it must work, including the BMS. So arguments that leasing the battery commit you too many years of leasing at far greater expense than buying must surely be incorrect.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Nice to see Europe getting so many choices. We are starting to get some choice now here. I think we can now buy -GM Volt -Nissan Leaf -Mitsubishi-i -Tesla Roadster 4 full-highway speed plug-in vehicles. That was unheard of a couple years ago.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      'The project calls for the “EASYBAT” Consortium to develop “off-the-shelf” automotive grade components and interfaces that enable the auto industry to easily integrate battery switching technology into their electric car platforms. The first large scale application of battery switching technology will be shown by Better Place and Renault with the commercial launch of the Renault Fluence Z.E. in Israel and Denmark by year end. The EASYBAT solution will consist of interfaces for switching a battery in and out of an electric car quickly and safely; the connector interfaces between the car, the battery, the communications network, and the battery cooling system; and design specifications that meet European industry and safety standards. The solution will be integrated and tested on fully electric vehicles to ensure it meets production-grade manufacturing criteria and European safety standards. Upon conclusion, EASYBAT will have a next generation, commercially available solution for battery switch integration components and design plans that allow for different types of batteries, not just a single standardized battery. Car manufacturers that want to focus on proprietary battery technology can do so and still be able to integrate their technology into a switchable battery electric car platform as envisioned by EASYBAT.' http://www.betterplace.com/the-company-pressroom-pressreleases-detail/index/id/european-commission-backs-first-project-for-battery-switch
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