A tiny two-person electric car may be the last choice for Formula One race car drivers, but that was the electric ride of choice last week as Formula One drivers rode around Dubai. With massive luxury cars as the status quo, the Twizy was an unusual choice. But alas, it was all about promotion by Renault. Seems like Renault, after its failure with Better Place electric car company in Israel, is testing the unlikely market in Dubai.
The Formula One drive taped by Renault was a publicity stunt no doubt, as Renault, the makers of the Twizy have posted the video online. See below. Even though it’s a commercial, it’s still fun to watch.
The drivers Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber and Caterham’s Charles Pic cruised through the city in a battery-powered electric vehicle race around the streets of Dubai, even doing a little urban dune bashing in a dusty parking lot. At one point they stop to a staged group of young people, in western clothing, asking: Do you want to get in? I know I would. I mean, take a look at those guys.
But with all the riches in Dubai, one positive green idea that they could also push in the oil-fueled economy is hooking eco car insurance like that being offered by the Green Insurance Company in the UK. Plant trees for every month you drive? This could take driving green in Dubai to a whole new level.
According to the National newspaper, the pair toured the roads of Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai, and Safa Park in the tiny Twizys, which are only 2.34 metres long and 1.24 metres wide.
“Driving down Dubai’s iconic roads and alleys was an amazing experience,” said Webber. “What made it even more special was the fact that the Twizy is a green car. The silence inside the vehicle was pretty impressive.”
Leaving out the rest of the PR-planted quotes in the National story, the Renault Twizy will be available for purchase in the UAE in 2014. The newspaper acknowledged it was a promotional campaign, but what was missing is the all too common glossing over of the environmental problems in the region –– something severely under-reported.
The article doesn’t talk about the problems of glorifying race car driving, habitat loss from dune bashing, or the problem with road accidents in Dubai.
So what do you think are Renault’s plans? Are they hoping the Twizy will be adopted as a new Dubai shopping car? Not likely since Arab families tend to be big, but probably something that will appeal to the maids and urban expats from western countries looking to do their own little green part in that neck of the desert.
And would I feel safe in a Twizy on crazy Middle Eastern urban highways with all the 4×4’s beside me? No way. If I had a choice I’d be taking my family in a Hummer, but make it electric please.
(Photos: screengrabs from the Renault Twizy video)