Our fleet of Renault Twizys work brilliantly in this beautiful area of rural Wales. Visitors enjoy hiring them to explore the National Park and our members find them really useful (and fun) for their everyday trips in and out of town or simply enjoying the outdoors themselves. Some are even using them to make deliveries to their local customers.
But the Twizy is designed as a an urban vehicle and we have been keen to explore what a more rugged rural version might be like. Ideally we hope someone might manufacture one at some stage.
Having won the Green Transport Prize in Edinburgh last year, we have used some of the money to modify a Twizy with more flexible suspension (for some of our rougher access tracks), chunkier tyres and a luggage rack at the rear which can carry overnight bags, rucksacks, shopping and even two bikes! We are also collaborating with Edinburgh College on an electric road legal buggy ("Bruce") which can tackle very bumpy tracks and tow a small trailer.
We have now started a trial on the Isle of Eigg in the inner Hebrides to see how well such low energy vehicles might work for them there. The good news on Eigg is that range is not an issue (the island is only 5 miles long!) and they are off-grid and generate their own electricity through a mix of wind, hydro and solar. But the challenge is how well the Twizy and buggy will cope with the rough tracks leading from the road to their houses and whether the vehicles can cope with the loads (including barrels of diesel!) which they need to collect from the ferry pier and transport to their homes scattered across the island. We (and they) are also curious to find out how much electricity our trial vehicles consume and what that would mean for the island's generating and storage capacity if the number of electric vehicles increased.
The trial started July 12th with the arrival on the island of "Toro" our modified Rural Twizy and we hope Bruce-the buggy (still under development) will join him there later in the summer. The trial is being run as a collaboration between the Eco Travel Network, Eigg Box and Edinburgh College.
You can read more about the Eigg trial on our Eco Funky Travel blog and follow us on Twitter @ecofunkytravel
Or come and visit us in the Brecon Beacons and try a Twizy for yourself!