SHE’S the torque of the town.
And University of Huddersfield student Rachel Smith is all smiles after her paint design for a car of the future scooped a top award.
Rachel Smith, 20, who is in Year 1 of a four-year advertising and media relations course, beat over 900 other entrants to win the national Renault Twizy design contest for a revolutionary electric car.
Her multicoloured paint job polled over 6,000 votes on Facebook to take first prize of £9,000 towards her tuition fees.
She said: “The design looks really good on the Twizy – I want one!
“The name Twizy inspired circles and spirals, so I used those in the design, which is very bright and colourful.
“I wanted to encompass the electric side and the eco aspect comes in with the green colours and rainbow effect of the colours.”
Rachel, who lives on the Storthes Hall campus, is following in the footsteps of her father Jonathan and grandfather John Malcolm. Both were keen designers and her grandfather helped her to learn how to draw Disney characters from a young age.
Now Rachel’s ambition is to work for Disney in the USA.
Her dazzling design is matched by the radical styling of the Renault Twizy. The doors open upwards and the two-seater has tandem seats, with the passenger sitting behind the driver.
The Twizy has been developed for urban motoring. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which needs recharging after 62 miles, and can reach a top speed of 50mph.
Rachel’s prize cheque was presented outside Huddersfield University yesterday by solo yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur. Her webcam reports became a regular daily feature on British TV screens in 2004 when she sailed 26,000 miles to become the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed in just over 71 days.
Ellen said: “I think Rachel’s design is fantastic. It is really different, she has made the most of vibrant colours while keeping the main body of the car in one colour. It really stands out.”
Andy Heiron, head of electric cars for Renault, agreed: “The more I see Rachel’s design, the more I genuinely like it. It is striking without being garish. She has really worked the canvas of the Twizy superbly well.”
He added that he saw small electric cars like the Twizy having an increasing share of the car market in urban areas.
He said: “I can see a lot more compact electric city cars like this coming out in the future, due to both economics and urbanisation.
“Most drivers spend their time with a lot of empty seats around them. A car like the Twizy is ideal, it is very nippy from zero to 30 miles per hour.”
The Twizy was launched on April 13 in Britain. The first ones will be delivered to customers early this month. Prices start at £6,690, plus £45 a month battery hire.