The Kangoo Z.E. 33 proves there is life after the internal combustion engine for urban light commercial operators, as James Dallas reports.
More than any other light commercial vehicle manufacturer Renault has pioneered the development of electric vehicle technology.
While other brands have taken a back seat and let their peers test the market, Renault has been bold in its belief that plug-in vans represent the best solution to the challenges facing goods delivery operators and service providers, particularly in cities, as pressure grows to improve air quality and diesel vans face mounting sanctions and the prospect of no-go zones.
The manufacturer launched its first electric Kangoo light van in 2011 and for a long time ploughed a lonely furrow as customers baulked at prohibitively high upfront costs – despite the government’s 20% Plug-in-Van Grant – the loss of payload due to the weight of the batteries, and range anxiety, a problem exacerbated by the lack of an adequate charging infrastructure.
But Renault stayed true to its course and continued to promote the environmental, functional and economical benefits of electric vans. Steady advances in electric vehicle (EV) technology helped its case and in September 2017 the brand introduced the Kangoo Z.E. Van 33 with new 33kW batteries that have increased range by 50% to 168 miles on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), or 124 miles under real-world conditions, according to Renault.
Full battery charging time has been reduced from eight to six hours and although rapid charging is not offered – as Renault says it reduces the lifespan of the battery – a one-hour lunchtime charge can top-up the range with an extra 22 miles.
Payloads of 650kg for the Kangoo Z.E. and the long-wheelbase Maxi Z.E. version, and maximum load volumes of 3.5m3 and 4.6m3 respectively, correspond to the diesel equivalents.
The brand is also lining up a new version of the Kangoo Maxi Z.E with an expanded load volume of 6.0m3, designed to meet the growing demand for parcel-delivery operations in cities.
The Kangoo Z.E. was a worthy winner of What Van?’s Green Award for 2018 and Renault’s LCV product manager Steve Wilson says: “Winning the Green Award has been a great boost for the reputation of the Kangoo Z.E.33. We promote the award win on our website and our dealers discuss the award, and why the Kangoo Z.E won it. To have recognition from such a well-regarded magazine really gives customers additional peace of mind.”
Wilson says Renault put a What Van? Award winner’s logo on the Kangoo Z.E. it displayed at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show to boost its reputation with the industry movers and shakers who flocked to the event.
“We also encourage our dealers and corporate sales team to make prospects aware of this important recognition from a well-respected title,” he adds.
Wilson claims the introduction of the new battery to the Kangoo Z.E. means that it is now a viable proposition to operators who would not previously have considered running electric vehicles.
“People transitioning from ICE (internal combustion engine) to EV are often concerned about range,” he explains.
“The 50% increase in range from the new 33kW battery means the Kangoo Z.E.33 is relevant to many more usage scenarios.”