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The Renault Twizy in Paris. [Photo Courtesy of M. Brice BELVEYRE, Centre Renault Z.E.]

albert-grahamI recently had the pleasure of visiting the Renault Z.E. Center located on Ile Seguin, (Boulogne-Billancourt) just a few minutes outside of Paris.  The Z.E. stands for Zero Emissions – a reference to Renault’s popular line of Electrical Vehicles (EVs).

At the Center, Renault showcases all of the vehicles which make up their Z.E. line of cars – The Renault ZOE (5-door hatchback), The Renault Fluence Z.E. (4-door saloon small family car), the Renault Kangoo Z.E. (a small utility van which is used extensively in France for deliveries) and the Renault Twizy (more on this one in just a bit).

Unique in France, and a first in Europe as well, the center has a 2 km driving track (with small hills, sharp turns and even the eventual traffic signage and traffic light! ) which permits extensive testing of the vehicles under real road conditions – all while remaining off road.

Enjoying a high performance EV
This way, there is no risk of incurring a traffic ticket if you forget to apply your turn signal while you are caught up in the excitement of driving a high performance EV!

At the Center’s reception and entrance area, there is a conference room where EV experts give short presentations about Renault and its work in the zero emission domain

Renault professionals answer all questions about the vehicles and the ZE program before going out for a test drive in the vehicles themselves. All of the vehicles at the center are available for test driving.

If you are planning to visit Paris and you are an EV enthusiast, then this is your “Disneyland in Paris”. Hands down, a must not miss.

While prices are displayed beside some of the vehicles, there is NEVER any pressure whatsoever to buy a vehicle or commit to any purchase. The center and its experience is purely informational.

During my visit, I was most interested in trying out the Renault Twizy, which has become very popular here in Paris, and which some of my family members and friends have considered purchasing. A cross between a small two seat car and the ever present city scooter, this quadricycle is a smart vehicle to own in Paris .

Twizy handles flawlessly
Out on the test track at the Renault Center, the Twizy handled flawlessly – it was a real pleasure to drive. Its 17hp engine pulls off without any hesitation when the accelerator is pressed. The 4 wide wheels provide quite a bit of traction with very reassuring handling when taking the corners. I found the vehicle to be very comfortable inside, the instrumentation very easy to read and follow and the ride very smooth and silent .

The Twizy can go between 50-80 km (30 – 48 miles) on a full charge depending on driving conditions. When it comes time to recharge, and if one lives in a Paris apartment without a parking, the Twizy can be conveniently recharged at any of the city’s Autolib charge points at preferential rates negotiated between Renault and Autolib.

The rate is 15 Euros a year for the TWIZY 45 ( a scaled down, 5 hp version which can be driven by anyone 16 years or older without a driver’s permit : vehicle’s top speed = 45 km/hr).

twizyCharging plans for Twizy
For the full fledge TWIZY (driver’s permit required: vehicle’s top speed = 80km/hr), the cost is 180 Euros/year. Both plans will buy 2 hours and 15 minutes of charge (during the day) or 4 and a half hours of charge at night at Autolib charge point located throughout the city.

In all, I found my visit to the Renault Z.E. center and the drive in the Renault Twizy on the test track to be very informative.

I was really impressed with the work Renault is doing to promote electrical vehicles sales via the center and informing the public about the advantages of driving electrical vehicles versus internal combustion engine vehicles.

EV Disneyland in Paris
If you are planning to visit Paris and you are an EV enthusiast, then this is your “Disneyland in Paris”.

Hands down, a must not miss. On a sunny summer day, be sure to pack a picnic and come out to enjoy the EV experience at the Renault Z.E. center as well as the greenery and serenity of the Ile Seguin environment.

Entrance to the center is free of charge and it is opened to everyone from Monday to Saturday – 09:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs.

Appointments can be made in advance to schedule an information session and a test drive by calling +33 (0) 1 76 84 53 65 or on the web site http://www.renault.fr/essai-gamme-ze

Directions
From Paris city center, take Metro line 9 to the Billancourt stop

Then walk for 10 minutes over the bridge to the center following the signs that point to Ile Seguin and the Centre D’essais Renault.

*I would like to thank M. Brice BELVEYRE from the Centre Renault Z.E. for the time he took to explain everything to me during my visit, and for the supporting materials and pictures he provided for this article.

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[Photo Courtesy of M. Brice BELVEYRE from the Centre Renault Z.E]

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