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First look: Renault Kangoo ZE electric van preview

Renault Kangoo ZE

Review

Six years and 25,000 units on from its launch, Renault has unveiled the second generation of its small electric panel van. Launched alongside the new Master ZE at the Auto Salon in Brussels, the Kangoo ZE now comes with a an increased range of 168 miles, 62 more than the first generation.

First breakthrough

Renault launched the Kangoo ZE back in 2011, which was a difficult time for electric vans. Sales of electric vans from Smith Electric and Ford, which had developed an electric version of Transit Connect with Azure Dynamics, were struggling, while another big name, Modec, had just entered administration.

Consumer confidence was low, but the Renault Kangoo ZE was set to change this. Not only was it an impressive product, with a 106-mile range and a 62PS/225Nm electric motor, but it was competitively priced (£16,500 plus VAT) and there were highly-trained technicians and sales staff in the dealer network.

Since then, however, the younger family relative, the Nissan e-NV200, has stolen the limelight thanks to a more powerful 110PS/254Nm motor, although the range is the same. Rather than increase the power, Renault has decided to retake control by increasing not the performance, but the range, which is still a key concern for operators.

Load area and practicality

There are two load lengths – 1,731mm and 2,115mm. Combined with the standard roof height of 1,252mm and floor width of 1,219mm (1,045mm between wheel arches), this equates to load volumes of three and four cubic metres. Payload on both is expected to stay at 650kg.

Technology and services

As with the Master ZE, Renault will be offering more services to its electric vehicle customers, like the ZE Trip (charge point locator) and ZE Pass (charge point payment app). Already available are services like ZE Connect, which lets users access important vehicle data (charge status, vehicle range, etc). 

ZE Interactive, which allows the user to pre-heat the vehicle and schedule charges, will still be provided.

Price and availability

The new Kangoo ZE will be in Renault Pro+ dealerships by the end of the year. Prices aren’t expected to stray too far from the current £16,990 plus VAT for the standard version and £17,990 plus VAT for the long wheelbase (Maxi) model. These figures take into account the 20% plug-In vehicle grant, but exclude the cost of the battery. This is rented to the user by Renault at between £35 and £70 a month – dependent on the mileage and contract length.

Improved driveline

As with the Master ZE, the new battery has been developed in conjunction with LG Chem. The 33kWh lithium-ion battery can store 50% more energy than the outgoing 22kWh one which, in turn, results in a greater range of 168 miles.

Charging times are cut thanks to a more powerful, new-generation 7kW AC charger (32A, single-phase, 230V AC), which reduces the time for a full charge from eight hours to six and it can increase the range by 22 miles in just one hour of charging, which is useful for when the driver takes a lunch break.

Renault engineers have also been thinking outside of the box on increasing the range. They introduced a heat pump which, by limiting the use of electric resistors that consume power and range, increases the range in cold weather.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.



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