by Dr. Iain Corness
Twizy puts lawmakers in a tizzy
Many years ago I bought a Tuk-Tuk and imported it to Australia. A fun run-about.
And as soon as the three wheels were on the bitumen, that’s when the trouble
Mr. Policeman would stop me and demand to know what it was. I would answer that
it was a Thailand Tuk-Tuk, brought over for promotional purposes, and it was
registered, complete with number plates and documentation.
There was obviously nothing in Johnny Hop’s book to cover Tuk-Tuk so I was told
that if it was a motorcycle, I had to wear a helmet, and as I wasn’t wearing
one, he was going to book me.
However, if it was a car, I had to wear a seat belt, and as I wasn’t wearing one
he was going to book me. Friendly lot the Aussie coppers. The end result was
that it was all too much hassle and I parked Tuk-Tuk outside my Thai restaurant
and left it there.
However, that form of narrow thinking still exists. There is a group of vehicles
now called ‘quadricycles’, and since they are registered for road use, they have
to be tested by the Euro NCAP people and graded for passenger safety.
These vehicles, and the Renault Twizy is one, are in reality, up-market electric
golf carts, to be used as city cars. Twizy’s four wheels and steering wheel
would put it into the passenger car category, but its quadricycle classification
overseas has enabled it to be developed, and sold, without the same degree of
safety features - including side-impact beams and electronic stability control -
required for homologation of regular cars in Australia, for example.
By its very nature the Twizy can not offer occupants the same degree of
protection as a modern passenger car, and European NCAP quadricycle testing is
not directly comparable with star ratings published for passenger vehicles.
However, Euro NCAP has highlighted that Twizy and three other quadricycles
tested recently - all type-approved for use on public roads - “showed severe
safety problems” in specific tests, including a 50 km/h frontal impact (down
from 64 km/h on cars) and 50 km/h side impact (the same speed used when testing
Reality is that these vehicles are four wheel motorcycles with electric battery
power. Top speed is around 80 km/h, and the nearest comparison is with
motorcycles, not cars. Side impact studies would show that Twizy is much safer
than a motorcycle, so NCAP should be promoting the quadricycles, not putting
silly rules in their way.
The battery powered two seater Twizy 80 model tested is classified as a ‘heavy
quadricycle’ in Europe and requires the driver to have a license. It weighs 474
kg and produces a neck-snapping 13 kW of power and 57 Nm of torque.
Acceleration? It is capable of reaching 45 km/h from standstill in 6.1 seconds,
on its way to an electronically limited 81 km/h top speed. Renault claims the
vehicle has a driving range of up to 100km before requiring a recharge.
As well as developing a driver’s airbag and a harness-style seatbelt for the
Twizy, Renault built in a three-point passenger seatbelt, four-wheel disc
brakes, front and rear crumple zones and a ‘safety cell’ body structure.
A number of other manufacturers in Europe and Japan in particular are working on
similar electrified vehicles, with some of the concepts and prototypes shown in
recent years including the Honda MC-B, Toyota i-Road, Audi Urban Concept,
Volkswagen Nils, Opel RAK-e and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s VELV.
One day, those people with legislative powers should look beyond the end of
What did we learn from the Austrian GP?
Well, we learned that it is possible to have a great circuit,
with gradients and curves, and allow spectators access and grassy fields in
which to camp. That is the true spirit of motor sport, involving the fans. Not
like the swanky ‘artificial’ and very boring circuits set in the deserts, with
fancy hotels that the enthusiasts cannot afford.
And Mercedes did it again. Another 1-2, with Rosberg scoring another victory
over Hamilton. It must be said that Hamilton’s first lap was simply sensational,
and he did keep the pressure up, but was never going to wrest the lead from
Rosberg, even with the pits telling him he could use knob number 3 or something
similar. Technology that is spoiling the competition.
Williams had their best results for many a year, and Valtteri Bottas enjoyed his
first trip to the podium, though many had hoped Massa (the Brazilian dwarf - he
really is amazingly small) would win. However, in today’s F1 you can go into the
pits in first place and end up fourth when the three behind you finish their pit
It should also not be forgotten what an incredible investment Dietrich
Mateschitz has made for F1. His circuit and four of his cars competing. He
deserves every accolade, it was just a pity that the on-track results were so
poor, with only Ricciardo (AKA The Teeth) finishing. His German team mate,
formerly known as The Finger, had an engine management problem and then almost
took Ricciardo off when being lapped, and later in the race ran into another car
and damaged his front wing and then retired. Not the kind of performance
expected from the current F1 Champion driver.
And talking about champion drivers, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) shows just what a
champion can do with a not very good car, bringing the uncompetitive Ferrari
home in 5th. Raikkonen in the sister car coming in 10th and 30 seconds behind
Alonso. Ferrari will not put up with these lack-luster performances. Expect
there to be a spare seat in a red car at the end of the year.
I have never been a great admirer of race stewards, and having had a couple of
personal experiences with stupid decisions, this was really brought home with
the penalty meted out to Esteban Gutierrez for an “unsafe release” in the pits.
In this situation, the driver waited for instructions before he can leave the
pit and finally gets the “go” instruction, so he did. Then got a “stop” because
a rear wheel was not firmly attached. Pushed back to the pits, wheel bolted on
correctly and then he can go. He had lost at least 20 seconds in that scenario,
and about as many places. Surely that is enough? But no, the stewards apply
another 10 second stop-go penalty on the driver, who is an innocent bystander in
this case. Penalize the pit crew if you must, but not the blameless driver!
In the Force India team, Perez drove well to 6th outright, avoiding all possible
shunts with Massa, while his team mate Hulkenberg followed him in 9th.
McLaren still in the doldrums, though Magnussen in 7th left Button 20 seconds
behind him in 11th.
The final noteworthy item was Muncher Maldonado in the “Lotus” did not hit
anyone or anything. Almost a new record.
The next race meeting is the British GP at Silverstone, 6th July.
Here comes the future of car insurance
Fraudulent ‘slam-ons’ - road traffic accidents deliberately
caused in order to claim for whiplash compensation - increased by 51 percent in
2013, according to claims fraud data from Aviva in the UK.
These induced accidents having a value of over £10m and are at the highest
levels ever detected by the insurer. In total, Aviva has over 6,000 motor injury
claims linked to organized fraud activity and is calling for stronger deterrents
whilst warning motorists to be vigilant behind the wheel.
Aviva says Be Vigilant: How to minimise the risk of being targeted by the cash
for crash fraudsters:
Stay alert: Pay attention to your driving and the cars/traffic around you.
Keep your distance: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in
front. Allow sufficient space to stop or maneuver to avoid colliding with a
vehicle in front.
Check the brake lights: A common trait in many vehicles involved in ‘crash for
cash’ is failure of the vehicle’s brake lights. If you notice the car in front
brakes and their lights don’t work, remain cautious, allow extra space between
you and the vehicle, and perhaps distance your car from theirs.
Warning signs: Is the car in front moving particularly slowly or is it slowing
down and speeding up for no apparent reason?
Driver Behavior: If the driver in front is focusing on the back of the vehicle,
that could be a sign they are looking for an opportunity to induce an accident.
Passenger Behavior: Are the passengers in the vehicle in front turning around
and looking at you for no apparent reason? They may be assessing an opportunity
to induce an accident.
Collision Damage: Does the car in front look like it has been in other accidents
- especially showing damage to its rear?
What to do if you are in an accident and are suspicious it may be fraudulent:
Stay calm. Don’t argue with the driver of the other vehicle and/or their
Call the police immediately while you are still at the scene of the accident,
inform them you suspect the accident is a cash for crash scam and ask them to
attend the accident scene.
Don’t admit liability to the other driver, passenger or anyone else that appears
to be connected to them at the scene of the accident. Don’t agree to liability
in writing, either.
Capture as much information as possible at the scene:
The make, model and registration number of the other vehicle.
The time, date, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
The full name, address and date of birth of the driver and each passenger in
their vehicle, and whether they were male or female.
The total number of passengers in the other vehicle, to include where they were
sat in the vehicle immediately after the accident.
Take pictures or video if you can, capturing any damage (or lack thereof) to the
other vehicle and the scene of the accident.
Whether the driver of the other vehicle or any of their passengers are
complaining of being injured and also if no one is complaining of being injured
whether the driver was reading from a document when dealing with you, or hands
you a document with their details already recorded - were they overly prepared
for an accident?
How the other vehicle left the scene of the accident (e.g. driven or towed
away). If towed or transported away, make a note of the vehicle and registration
number of the vehicle that took the car away, to include whether it displayed
any business name the names and addresses of any independent witnesses.
As if there isn’t enough of a problem just staying out of trouble in ordinary
traffic! Now while this is a UK article that was sent to me, take it as a
pointer to the future - it will happen here. You have been warned.