Car sharing has taken the world by storm. Wildly successful companies like Zip Car and peer-to-peer services like Whip Car have made it difficult for the competition, fine-turning their models until there's little left to be desired.
French automaker Renault recently decided it too would dip a toe into the car sharing market, but it's got a twist (of should we say Twizy?) that makes the scheme worth of a second look.
In June, Renault announced the pilot of an urban car sharing program called Twizy Way. It aims to give urban commuters access to a fleet of cars via smart phone app (nothing new there). But here's the twist: Renault's fleet is comprised entirely of Twizies, 100-percent electric, compact cars that are perfect for driving in the city.
The 17-horsepower Twizy, which tops out at 50 miles per hour, is only 92 inches long, which is about a foot shorter than the Smart ForTwo. For those who may be nervous about safety when rolling about in a miniscule smart car (in Europe it's classified as a quadricycle), the Twizy offeres disc brakes, air bags, and plenty of seat belts.
The Twizy Way experiment began through a partnership with the urban community of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (CASQY). It offered 200 test-drivers the opportunitiy to access a fleet of 50 Twizies distributed over a pilot area covering around 17 square miles. The test phase was a success, so Renault plans to open the program to the public in late September.
There's already proof that car sharing programs have the power to significantly reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, and that's fleets of traditional gas guzzlers and hybrids. Renault's idea of a car sharing program designed specifically to boost access to zero-emissions cars could take reduction possibilities to an entirely new level. If successful and scalable, Twizy Way could be a prototype for the next evolution of car sharing programs: a way to facilitate the switch from combustion engine vehicles to alternative fuels without asking individuals to shoulder the high costs of vehicle ownership.
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