[THE INVESTOR] The Korean authorities have banned Renault Samsung’s new ultra-compact Twizy electric cars on highways, dealing another blow to the automaker’s long-awaited debut.
The Korea National Police Agency and Transport Ministry have decided to prohibit the two-seater Twizy on freeways -- just like other low-speed electric vehicles -- citing safety issues.
While Twizy is categorized as a compact car by the ministry, authorities said Twizy is different from conventional compact vehicles as it receives EV subsidies from the Environment Ministry. The cars will be banned on highways until the safety and regulation issues are resolved, they noted.
Earlier, Renault Samsung said Twizy -- with maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour -- can ride on major Seoul highways such as Olympic Blvd and Gyeongbu Expressway, that have a maximum speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour.
The latest decision is causing Renault Samsung to change its marketing strategy as the automaker was pinning high hopes for the Twizy to be used by Seoul commuters on the highways and also for delivery businesses.
Renault Samsung unveiled Twizy in March, two years after it was initially introduced in Korea in 2015. The car launch was delayed as Korea didn’t have safety standards for vehicles like Twizy, which is much smaller than conventional compact sedans but not a two-wheeled motorcycle. After a series of discussion, Twizy was categorized as a compact vehicle under the Automobile Management Act, getting permission to be operated on the roads.
The Twizy compact, which is set for June release, has a range of 100 kilometers per single charge. The vehicle can be plugged into any 220V power outlet to charge it conveniently. The price, which starts at 15.5 million won (US$13,715.33), will drop below 4.7 million won when the government subsidies are added.
By Ahn Sung-mi (email@example.com)