Teeny, tiny Twizy: The future of urban motoring?

Among the potential “climate solutions” on display at the climate talks currently taking place in Durban, South Africa, is Renault’s teeny, tiny Twizy, an electric vehicle that, despite its impossibly small appearance, not only accommodates two but offers up to 55 liters of storage space — about as large as a good-sized backpack — under the rear seat.

Set to enter the European market in early 2012 at a price of €6,990 (around $9,350), not including a monthly fee of €45 (about $60) to lease the battery, the Twizy is so small that Renault compares it not to other cars but to scooters. The comparison, though, is favorable: with insurance, maintenance and energy costs combined, Renault says the Twizy is about 15 percent less expensive to operate than a three-wheeled scooter.

Depending on the regulations in each country, customers might have two Twizy styles to choose from: one with a 15-kilowatt (20-horsepower) motor designed for urban motorists, and one with a four-kilowatt (five-horsepower) motor that doesn’t require a license to drive.

Weighing in at a mere 450 kilograms (990 pounds), the Twizy will be able to deliver around 100 kilometers (62 miles) per charge. And while the vehicle features “deflectors” rather than fully enclosing side doors — combining, as Renault puts it, “the enjoyment of open-air motoring with protection from the elements” — buyers will have the option to add lower door panels for an extra cost if they prefer.

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