Renault is getting ready to launch a new electric car sharing network that will allow users to get around with “unprecedented freedom”. The Twizy Way by Renault scheme was revealed earlier in the month. It will feature the manufacturer’s electric vehicle and will start a pilot run on June 21 in Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines, which is located near Paris. Some 200 people will be able to take one of the closest 50 Twizys to drive for as long as they need. Then they will be able to park the car anywhere they want within ten-square-miles of the pilot area.
The service is set to be launched in September for the general public and be expanded to other towns in France, as well as other nations in Europe, later on. It’s believed that the car sharing scheme could be launched in the UK as early as next year, but Renault hasn’t given an exact date on that as of yet.
To use the service, motorists will need to register with Renault and pay a small fee to subscribe. Then they will be charged for the time they spend using the vehicles. Although Renault hasn’t released prices for the network yet, it has ensured that the prices will be in line with other car sharing schemes. After becoming members, users will be given special Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards, which will be used to start the vehicles. Since the Twizy has an open cabin, there’s no need for an unlocking system.
To find the nearest available Twizy, Renault has fitted each vehicle with a geo-location system that will allow users to see them on a specially-designed real-time app, which will be available on both smartphones and computers. Vehicles can be picked up on a whim or reserved online. If users come across a car and want to know if it’s available, they can scan a QR code on the car with their smartphone. The vehicles are also fitted with a system that alerts the service operator to when it has a low charge so they can replace it and take the drained car to the closest base for recharging.
Renault media relations officer Christophe Lavauzelle tells journalists that Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines is a great place to pilot Twizy Way by Renault. Located on the outskirts of Paris, the ‘dormitory town’ is chosen by people due to how close it is to their place of work – usually near the city centre. In this kind of suburban setting, there’s a need for new mobility solutions. People need to make short journeys to the station, shops or countryside. However, this isn’t the only kind of setting the scheme is suitable for. They are working close to several local authorities and have received a lot of interest from towns with environmental agendas and tourism centres – particularly seaside resorts.
Lavauzelle went on to explain that the Twizys don’t need an unlocking system. They imagine that a lot of people will just want to sit in the vehicles and take photos in the beginning. They expect this even if the people aren’t members, as the cars are so different, and that can’t be a bad thing. This service will be private in the public interest, and all car and network maintenance will be managed by Renault. However, they are working close to local authorities to use the public domain and make sure everything runs smoothly. One big advantage is that all parking for the vehicles in Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines will be free. A few special parking spots will be reserved in busy areas as well. They believe this will be a very interesting case for drivers who are sick of finding a parking fine on their windscreen.
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