We are using part of our Green Transport prize to have a 2nd shot at modifying a Twizy to see if we can make one more practical for daily rural use and more attractive to locals and tourists wishing to travel two -up. Much as we love our Twizys, they are ideally designed for 1 person and minimal luggage! Some of us drive two up in our Twizys most of the time and hire them to tourists who certainly wish to do so. (There’s even the occasional wedding!). We find the rear seat awkward to get into and uncomfortable on longer trips. Also, because of its tandem design, the Twizy offers virtually no luggage carrying capacity which greatly limits its utility in a rural setting.
Particularly frustrating is that the Twizy wheelbase is the same as a Smartcar (and our erstwhile b-bugs), so we have often wished Renault would produce a side-by-side version of the Twizy. It would give a much more comfortable ride for the passenger, be far more sociable and deliver ample rear luggage carrying space ‘for free’. Focused as it is on the city commuter market, it doesn’t look as if Renault is likely to do this so we are having a shot ourselves to see whether it’s possible, to test what it would look and feel like and finally as a motivator for any manufacturer interested in the rural runabout market. Maybe we will even goad Renault into doing a version. We certainly value their interest and helpfulness in our varied projects.
Redcastle Classics in Caerphilly did a great job on our first rural Twizy mod, Toro (below), giving the Twizy more flexible suspension and bigger tyres (for rougher roads) and a luggage rack attached to his rear. After a successful trial on the Isle of Eigg and the Knoydart peninsula last year, Toro now lives on Eigg being used by locals and visitors for the regular 4 mile run to the ferry to collect passengers, dogs and shopping. He is powered entirely by Eigg’s own renewable energy from wind, hydro and sun.
Redcastle is now working on our latest “Wide boy” (sic) experiment to see if side by side seating might be doable without a ridiculously expensive redesign. They have stripped down a donor Twizy and we met up with them yesterday for Phase 1 review and discussion. The body frame will have to be widened and it will require a new windscreen. With a widened frame, the dashboard and steering column should be able to be shifted to one side. The seating arrangement itself (they think) will be relatively straightforward. Because of the frame change, we will have to switch to a canvas top for the prototype. It is still looking risky but we are exploring the frame and windscreen options before proceeding to Phase 2.
Watch this space for further developments or point us to any alternatives emerging. For our rural uses, we want the cool funky and ultra lightweight appeal of the Twizy , its excellent performance characteristics (handling, speed and range are just fine) but with side-by-side seating and luggage carrying capacity. Also the price needs to be little or no more than the Twizy or it will not work for us.