Aimed at providing emission-free access to operators carrying out last-mile deliveries in city centres, Renault’s electric large van, the Master Z.E., will go on sale in Q4 2018.
While Renault will not confirm prices and specification for the UK until Q2 2018, the van is likely to cost over £50,000, excluding VAT but before the Plug-in Van Grant, for an outright purchase.
The four-model panel line-up will have payloads ranging from 975kg to 1,128kg and load volumes of 8m3-13m3. In the two platform cab versions payloads are 1,355kg and 1,377kg and Renault claims that if fitted with a Luton conversion, load volume can expand to a cavernous 22m3.
The Master Z.E. panel van line-up has a loading height of 540-560mm and loading doors that swing through to 270°.
Although the Z.E. panel vans’ payloads fall short of their diesel equivalents (which can carry up to 1,485kg) due to the 255kg weight of the battery, Renault claims load volume is more important than payload to last-mile delivery operators.
“It is not the sort of Master to carry concrete,” says Guillaume Berthier, Renault’s Electric Vehicle sales and marketing director.
This focus on load volume led Renault to introduce an electric version of the Master before developing a plug-in Trafic medium van, although plans to offer electric drivetrains for all its LCVs are afoot.
The Master Z.E. can be fully charged in six hours, which Renault claims is appropriate to the requirements of its target fleet customers.
According to Berthier, these customers are parcel delivery firms and inner-city authorities that can charge the vehicles up overnight.
With the Master Z.E. designed for specific rather than multi-purpose usage, he adds: “You simply don’t need a full charge in one hour.”
Berthier says the cost of installing rapid chargers in cities is prohibitive and, although he admits a quick charge can be useful for the occasional long journey, he claims that even for Renault’s Zoe Z.E. passenger car, rapid charging accounts for only 5% of all recharging.
“EVs are not long-trip [vehicles],” Berthier asserts. “We need to understand the real needs of the customer.”
We got behind the wheel of the Master Z.E. panel van in the core L2H2 (medium length, medium height) bodystyle and found it well suited to meet the needs of most urban delivery operators.
Apart from the environmental benefits and the tariff-free access into congestion charging zones, the electric Master is a far more relaxing van to maneouvre through cities than its diesel equivalents, which is largely down to the single-speed transmission common to plug-in vehicles.
On the Master Z.E. this works smoothly without any of the harsh acceleration and braking formerly associated with electric vehicles. Progress is quiet and serene with none of the bone-shaking juddering that often accompanies slow journeys through urban traffic in a large diesel van. Engine noise is replaced by the ghostly ‘Renault Voice’, which warns pedestrians of the Z.E.’s approach.
Once out on winding B-roads the van holds on steadfastly to the tarmac through tight corners with ample feedback from the steering, while a 450kg weight in the back, just under half the 1,056kg payload, helped to keep bounciness well suppressed.
Renault claims the 74-mile range is achieved in regular driving mode, in which the van has a top speed of 62mph. Press the button on the dash to switch to Eco Mode and the Z.E. becomes still more frugal with slower acceleration, more regenerative, but harsher, braking and a top speed limited to 50mph.
Renault could not say by how much the green setting extends range, claiming it varies widely according to driving style and climate conditions, which begs the question as to how accurate the 74-mile estimate for normal mode is, but we found Eco Mode severely impeded performance – particularly when struggling up hills – so it’s probably best left for return trips post delivery.
The Master Z.E. comes with Renault’s fleet management telematics package, Easy Connect for Fleet. It provides real-time information on mileage, range, location, fuel consumption, tyre pressure, technical alerts and miles to the next service. Renault claimed it would enable fleets to cut running costs, save fuel, reduce emissions, plan servicing schedules and improve driver behaviour.
Renault Master Z.E. L2H2
Price est (ex VAT/after PIVG*) £42,960
Price range (ex VAT) tbc
Insurance group tbc
Service intervals 36,000mls
Load length 3,083mm
Load width (min/max) 1,380/1,765mm
Load bay height 1,894mm
Gross payload 1,056kg
Load volume 10.8m3
Engine size/power 33kW (60hp)
Range (NEDC**) 124mls
* Plug-In Van Grant
** New European Driving Cycle
The Master Z.E. is a refined, and practical load carrier that presents a viable option for urban operators