Fans of virtual life now have the option of being the first on their simulated blocks to drive an electric car. The Sims 3, which is the latest installment in EA's popular life-simulating video game franchise, now offers players a downloadable "Electric Vehicle Pack," thanks to a promotional agreement with the French carmaker Renault. The expansion pack will include a virtual version of Renault's Twizy Z.E. concept, an electric two-seater that the company debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2008, as well as home solar panels and windmills to power the vehicle.
The new features reflect not only Renault's desire to showcase its forthcoming lineup of EVs (expected to begin hitting the market in 2011,) but also a growing anticipation on the part of the public for electrics. "Electric vehicles are going to appeal to younger, more socially conscious customers and especially early adopters," said Stephen Norman, senior vice president of global marketing for Renault. "This is the heartland of The Sims 3 community and it thus provides a great innovative way to build the Renault Brand."
Beyond the cool factor, going electric pays dividends in the video game as well. If a Sim decides to ditch his gas-powered car in favor of an electric and outfit his home with solar and wind generators, the total weekly household bills for that Sim will be reduced.
As for the Twizy itself, the small car is expected to hit the European market in 2011—no plans have been announced yet to release it in the United States.