Published March 29, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
Do you remember when you looked forward to getting a first car? Well times and potential cars have changed, and in the UK one with a potentially low barrier to entry could be this 28-mph max speed EV that may soon be able to be driven by those age 16 and up without a license.
Pictured is a 2013 Renault Twizy 45 which the automaker tentatively plans to introduce to the UK as a possible first vehicle for beginning drivers, and technically, it’s not a car, but rather, a quadricycle.
Pending UK law would allow for license-less driving by 16-year-olds in such vehicles weighing under 772 pounds (350 kilograms) and up to the aforementioned top speed. Relatively low up-front and charging costs have made them at least a strong candidate for consideration, and naturally drivers of all ages could conceivably opt for one.
According to Autocar, Renault UK’s head of EV programme, Andy Heiron said “there are still details to be finalised by the government, and there will be a basic practical and theory test involved.”
The approximately $9,865 (£6200) vehicle looks somewhat more elaborate than a golf cart, and for a first set of wheels it could feel quite liberating and fun – but watch out for those projected UK insurance premiums, which for 16-year-olds could be as high as $6,365 (£4000) – but expected to decrease significantly for older drivers.
Renault is not putting any sales projections on the Twizy 45, and since all details are not in place, it has not definitively been able to say it will begin selling them.
In the U.S., vehicles like this are also known as “neighborhood electric vehicles,” but no matter what the vehicles' anticipated habitat, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has gone out of its way to warn against them.
Here, they need not pass crash tests like regular passenger cars do, and judging by introductory level UK insurance premiums totaling two-thirds of the selling price, it would appear the Brits do not view them as any safer.
But the idea of starting out with a small, new EV has been floated in recent memory before, notably by Opel’s One Euro Car concept, which also keeps within the 28-mph limit.
What do you think? On the positive side, youngsters are capable of being careful, the vehicle is not fast, arguably more practical than a scooter or motorcycle, and it would be cheap to operate being all electric. Or would it make more sense for beginners to start in a larger, heavier car?
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