The love affair between Canada and Renault was an enduring one from 1964 when the automaker jointly built a plant with Peugeot. In 1988 Renault exited the market, but after almost 30 years the French company is making a comeback, though perhaps not the return that many might expect.
Renault's fully-electric, two-seat Renault Twizy is already commercialized in Europe in two different models: the Twizy 40 (which can reach a top speed of 40 km/h) and the Twizy 80 (80 km/h). For now, Renault can't sell the 80 model in Canada as it does not comply with certain federal laws.
The 40 version is already available in Canada's Vancouver and should follow soon in Quebec, intended for business, airport, police, fire station and national parks use. Because of it's low speed, the 40 is not allowed on public roads in Quebec where 50 km/h is the minimum speed required.
Renault distributor AZRA is talking with the Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Jacques Daoust. "We will have to change the law, [but] I am confident that we will be able to do something [to accommodate the 40]," said Daoust at the vehicle's official presentation in Montreal in early June.
When and how much
With a new or amended law needed, Daoust could not say when sales of the tiny vehicle will begin. Renault wants to make 600 Twizy 40s available at first; all to be leased for $99 per month, which includes insurance and registration. Owners would be restricted to areas where the speed limit is 40 km/h or less, which is why both AZRA and Renault, are hoping for a quick change of legislation.
"The Renault Group is pleased to have selected a company as involved and dynamic as AZRA for the distribution of Twizy in Canada,” said Renault commercial director Guillaume Gauthier.
The novel electric vehicle allows Renault to accelerate its international development, and allows the automaker to participate in developing new ways to sell cars, he said.
New charging stations
In addition to Twizy distribution, AZRA will contribute to expanding the network and accessibility of charging stations for all electric vehicle owners, installing 2,000 charging stations in urban centers over the next 18 months.
Each terminal can serve up to four users, for a total of 8,000 new charge points. They will be installed at no cost on private lands through partnerships with building owners and offices, shopping centers and other types of facilities.
"At Azra, we are trend spotters," said president and CEO Jean-Francois Carriere. "Our [goal] is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."
"We are proud to invest in the electrification of transportation because it is the way forward to reduce our environmental footprint," said Carriere.