Self-drive touring is one of the fastest-growing trends in travel, according to a recent article in the magazine published by the American Society of Travel Agents. A Portuguese company, ToGuide is ahead of the curve here, and is offering a way to tour European cities by renting small, two-seat all-electric Renault Twizy vehicles outfitted with an audio guide and GPS.

The Twizy is small enough to negotiate narrow streets in historic districts, such as in Barcelona, where rental includes free parking and free recharging. A 24-hour rental is 60 Euros, which is comparable to an all-day organized bus tour for two. ToGuide is marketing GPS city tours in as many as 32 languages to tour operators and visitor bureaus throughout Europe.

The audio tours highlight points of interest, sorted by theme. So, travelers can select by routes by historical, cultural or architectural significance. The audio tours also help users find restaurants.

The Twizy was introduced as a concept car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, and the production model was introduced a year later at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It is equipped with a 13-kW, 17-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 50 miles per hour. It has a range of 60 miles and can be fully recharged in under four hours. There's also a low-power version more suitable for corporate campuses or vacation resorts, driven by a 4-kW, 5-hp motor. This version does not require the driver to have a license.

Both versions – classified as quadrycycles, not cars – use lithium-ion batteries located under the front seats. The Twizy is just over seven feet long, which means it can squeeze into the smallest parking spaces.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Hours Ago
      No doubt Charleston will pre-emptively ban these, just like they did with scooters, pedal-driven quadracycles, and rickshaws (for touring purposes). OTOH, while I applaud any attempt by visitors to see the sights and learn about places they visit - I would certainly suggest that they hire a living, breathing guide to show them around. You'll be surprised how much more nuance and detail they can convey over an out-of-date guidebook, even in this age of internet information. Excuse me, I'll be off to the pub to meet my guests for my evening tour now... ;)
      • 7 Hours Ago
      This would be ideal for a place like Malta, where the streets are narrow and there is a lot to see in a relatively small area. From their website THE NEW GENERATION OF CITY TOURS toGuide combines its technological know-how with the Renault Twizy plataform and a Design and Advertisement Service. This enables us to provide a turnkey solution for GPS-guided tours across Cities, Historical Centers and Integrated Resorts. Choosing us as a business partner, you can benefit from a broader, more complete and personalized service, including a project manager working exclusively on your investment. A NEW WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES Self-Drive Tours are the fastest-growing field in tourism, and are thus becoming the prime option for many travelers. Imagine yourself being able to provide your clients with a fun, independent and eco-friendly way of becoming acquainted with the city, including exciting multi-language audio commentary, backed up by music and sound effects related to the specific points of interest. Now you can actually make it happen - with the solution developed by toGuide, self-drive GPS City Tours have become a reality, enabling you to provide a new and innovative tourism service. This way, your clients can rent a "Twizy" equipped with the GPS Touristic Guide and drive through the previously defined routes or using the Drive Around mode, which gives them complete freedom regarding their schedule and the places to visit. Sales channels available for your Twizy GPS City Tours: Travel Agencies, Tourism Operators, Incentives, Incoming, Marketing and Communication Campaigns, Events, Team Building, Spontaneous Clients, etc.
      • 7 Hours Ago
      Back before the global economy blew up, we planned to do some foreign travel when we retired. This would have been great fun. Now we are hoping the trains in the US will still be running when we do our cutback, "see the USA" trip.