Renault is hoping its battery-powered Kangoo ZE 33 will allay any range anxieties that are deterring fleet managers from acquiring electric vans.
Marketed solely in Business trim, and also available in long-wheelbase Maxi guise, it comes with a 33kWh battery with greater energy density than the one fitted to the previous Kangoo ZE plus a 44kW electric motor. The battery can be completely replenished in no more than six hours thanks to a 7kW 32A charger and a heat pump is fitted to keep the cab warm; a first for an electric van.
While the official NEDC range is 170 miles, Renault quotes shorter figures in its literature which it believes are more realistic. They are 125 miles in the summer dropping to 75 miles in harsh winter weather.
Load capacity is 3.0cu m while payload capacity is 625kg. Access to the cargo area is by means of twin rear doors that can be swung through 180 degrees plus a sliding nearside door. Six load tie-down points are provided plus a full-height bulkhead.
Head out onto the highway and you soon discover that all the performance ZE 33 has on tap is immediately available. Make full use of it and you will deplete the battery more rapidly, so it makes sense to stop having fun and press the Eco Mode button to restrict the van’s performance.
It makes little difference to its on-the-road behaviour when you are running lightly-laden on flat terrain, but may make climbing an incline with a heavy load on-board more of a struggle.
ZE 33’s electric motor is barely audible, which means all the other sources of noise on the vehicle are highlighted. You hear the slapping of the tyres on the road surface more clearly than you would if you were driving a diesel van.
It also means pedestrians and cyclists do not hear you coming; and you quickly discover that they use their ears as much as their eyes.
Fortunately, ZE 33 is fitted with ZE Voice. It emits a strange, targeted noise at speeds of up to 20mph that warns vulnerable road users that you are in their vicinity.
Regenerative braking helps extend ZE 33’s range and is by no means as fierce as the system fitted to Kangoo ZE when it first appeared. When you lifted your foot off the accelerator pedal you were in danger of bashing your nose on the windscreen.
ZE 33 offers a comfortable ride and dependable handling, but be careful when manoeuvring at low speeds. Too heavy an application of your right foot and you may find yourself shooting forwards more quickly than you expect.
Bear in mind that operators of electric vans do not have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty or the London congestion charge, and that availability of the government’s Plug-In Van Grant helps keep the front-end price down.
It cuts the purchase price of electric light commercials by 20% up to a maximum of £8,000.
A longer range means that the eminently-practical ZE 33 should appeal to a wider range of fleets than its predecessor.
It is without doubt worth considering if you are involved in short- to medium-haul delivery work in urban and suburban areas.