Self-drive touring is one of the fastest-growing trends in travel, according to a recent article in the magazine published by the American Society of Travel Agents. A Portuguese company, ToGuide is ahead of the curve here, and is offering a way to tour European cities by renting small, two-seat all-electric Renault Twizy vehicles outfitted with an audio guide and GPS.
The Twizy is small enough to negotiate narrow streets in historic districts, such as in Barcelona, where rental includes free parking and free recharging. A 24-hour rental is 60 Euros, which is comparable to an all-day organized bus tour for two. ToGuide is marketing GPS city tours in as many as 32 languages to tour operators and visitor bureaus throughout Europe.
The audio tours highlight points of interest, sorted by theme. So, travelers can select by routes by historical, cultural or architectural significance. The audio tours also help users find restaurants.
The Twizy was introduced as a concept car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, and the production model was introduced a year later at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It is equipped with a 13-kW, 17-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 50 miles per hour. It has a range of 60 miles and can be fully recharged in under four hours. There's also a low-power version more suitable for corporate campuses or vacation resorts, driven by a 4-kW, 5-hp motor. This version does not require the driver to have a license.
Both versions – classified as quadrycycles, not cars – use lithium-ion batteries located under the front seats. The Twizy is just over seven feet long, which means it can squeeze into the smallest parking spaces.