There’s not much choice in the car-derived van segment. You can either pick the petrol-powered Ford Fiesta van or this new electric-only Renault Zoe.
With a maximum payload of 457Kg (Business trim) and one cubic metre of load space, the Zoe is pretty much the least practical van on sale. But, for a business that doesn’t carry much and wants to uphold a green agenda or operates in an emissions-restricted city, the Zoe van might be just the ticket.
It’s also a remarkably cheap way to get a Zoe, with CV OTR prices (including Government grant) starting at £19,722. The cheapest Zoe car starts at £27,000.
So, what’s the difference between them? Well, the Zoe van doesn’t have rear seats and does have blacked out rear windows and, erm, that’s about it. There is a platform fitted where the rear seats would usually go, to ensure the load space is flat right up to the front seats.
A mesh bulkhead protects passengers from any moving cargo, while there is also a removable cover that protects the load from prying eyes.
The rear doors can still be opened, which makes loading and unloading a tad easier as the Zoe’s boot aperture isn’t particularly large and its bumper protrudes slightly, making leaning in quite awkward.
Commercial versions of the Zoe are limited to the lower-powered R110 specification, which means it develops 107PS. You do get the same 52kWh battery pack as the car, giving a potential range of 245 miles.
Like the car, the Zoe van is comfortable, plush and easy to drive. It doesn’t set off with much vigour but has enough power to keep it moving along happily.
Road noise isn’t particularly intrusive until you reach motorway speeds and overall refinement is high for a commercial vehicle.
Of course, there are all the usual mod-cons that EVs tend to provide, such as app connectivity, air conditioning and a configurable pre-heating system.
On both of the available trim levels, a digital instruments cluster, keyless entry and cruise control come as standard.
The Business + features sat-nav, parking sensors, rear-view camera and lane-keep assist for an extra £1,250, but the payload is reduced to 435Kg.
Charging takes as little as three hours using the on-board 22kW charger. It is also possible to specify a 50kW charger for an extra £875 and complete the job in 70 minutes, from a compatible charge point.
Renault says the TCO savings of operating a Zoe van instead of a rival vehicle will amount to £5,000 over a four-year cycle and, from April, drivers that are entitled to personal use of the vehicle will benefit from 0% BIK.
While the conversion isn’t the most extensive – there are still defunct rear window switches, seatbelt mounting points and car-specific trims in the rear – Renault has created a niche by offering this cut-price, zero-emission commercial vehicle solution.
With a useable range of more than 200 miles, fast charging and the amenities of a car, there’s no harm in adding the Zoe van to your fleet.