More ultra low energy vehicles for rural market?

As Twizy fans of 2 years standing, we are delighted at the signs of more ultra lightweight, ultra low energy electric vehicles appearing on the market. They are more affordable (compared to other electric vehicles) and they use a LOT less energy on short journeys because they no longer require the majority of their energy to move the vehicle rather than the people in it! The compromise is much shorter range, lower speeds and minimal comfort.

Hiriko fold up electric car

Hiriko fold up electric car

The only disappointment for us rural dwellers is that the models are always geared around the city market. For example,  the Hiriko which will be produced in Spain next year features the fact that it can fold up to take up less space when parked. This is clearly an important issue in overcrowded cities. I’m guessing it’s also why the Renault Twizy (which we have and love) was built as a tandem seater rather than side by side so it could take up less road and parking space in a busy city. Here in rural Wales though road and parking space is not a problem, nor is speed. Our two issues are flexible people and luggage carrying (as the shops and schools etc are all a short drive away and we have little public transport) and the occasional bumpy tracks. For example, we would love an innovative “fold-out” luggage (or small passenger) carrying option rather than a version which folded up!

Track to house

Track to house

In the absence of any manufactured solutions, we have initiated a small informal design experiment here in Wales adapting a Twizy (“Butch”)  to carry more luggage and, hopefully, cope better with rough tracks. Ideally, we dream of side-by-side seating as well.  In conjunction with Edinburgh College, we are also trialling a purpose-designed electric road buggy on the Isle of Eigg this summer. Their longest road trip is 4 miles but most trips involve rough tracks and carrying heavy loads. the good news is that Bruce-the-buggy will be powered entirely by the renewable energy which they generate on the island.


About Alison Kidd

Research Psychologist
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