Renault has pioneered the introduction of electric vans to the UK market and the launch of the car-derived compact Zoe Van confirms its position as the leader of the plug-in pack.
In one fell swoop it has also given a shot in the arm to the small car-derived van (CDV) sector itself, which was in danger of extinction with all models bar the Ford Fiesta Van having been withdrawn from sale.
In true CDV tradition the Zoe Van is essentially its passenger car stablemate with the back seats removed to create a bijou but still useful 1.0m3 load space that measures 1,205mm in length by 1,110mm in width.
The Zoe Van features protective rubber flooring in the load area with four anchorage points on the floor.
A mesh bulkhead behind the two front seats offers some protection to the occupants from objects that may come loose in the load area, but with a modest payload of 368kg (in the Business+ version driven here) the van is not likely to be tasked with carrying anything too heavy.
The solid lower section of the bulkhead extends around where the edge of the rear seats would be in the passenger car, which should stop items falling out when the rear side doors are opened to access the load space. Renault has disabled the rear windows in the van conversion and covered them in opaque film to discourage prying eyes from checking out the contents of the boot.
The cargo space can also be reached via the tailgate and, while not originally designed for commercial use, the minimal loading lip means this is not too arduous. The existing parcel shelf remains but can be easily removed and a load area cover is supplied for added security.
Power comes from a 107hp electric motor and 52kWh battery offering a claimed range of up to 239 miles on the WLTP cycle, which should be sufficient to still the fluttering of range anxiety for all but the most paranoid urban-based operators.
The Zoe Van comes as standard with a type-2 charging cable, allowing a 100% battery charge in three hours using a 22kW charger, while 50kW rapid-charging capability is available as an option. With the DC charger, Renault says an 80% charge is possible in 70 minutes while a 30-minute charge will give a 90-mile boost.
The charging inlet is located on the Zoe’s nose behind the Renault badge.
The generously equipped interior is carried over from the passenger car and includes a small but chunky synthetic leather steering wheel and, in Business+ trim, recycled fabric seat upholstery.
Standard equipment with Business trim includes a 10in TFT instrument cluster, a 7in touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, air conditioning, a Renault keycard with hands-free entry, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, automatic lights and wipers, full LED headlights, front fog lights, cruise control with speed limiter, and the Z.E. Voice low-speed pedestrian warning system.
Stepping up to Business+ adds satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charging, rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high and low beam, traffic sign recognition, climate control, electrically folding body-colour mirrors, and 16in alloy wheels.
We also got the Technology Pack available with Business+, which ups the size of the touchscreen to 9.3in and adds front parking sensors and a rear-view camera for £640, excluding VAT.
The Zoe Van is fun to drive with sharp handling and rapid acceleration from a standing start, particularly when eco mode is deactivated. The one-speed automatic transmission common to electric vehicles takes the strain out of frenetic city driving, and the battery regeneration that kicks in when the throttle is released means one-footed driving is possible for the majority of most journeys.
Renault Zoe Van Business+ R110 Z.E. 50
Price (ex-VAT, inc. PiVG) £20,330
Price range (ex-VAT, inc-PIVG) £19,380-£20,995
Insurance group 23E
Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls (battery 8yrs/100,000mls)
Service intervals 1yr/18,000mls
Load length 1,205mm
Load width (min/max) 1,110mm
Load bay height 410mm
Gross payload 368kg
Load volume 1.0m3
Engine size/power 108hp 80kW electric motor
Range (WLTP) 239 miles
Sparky performance, a decent range and useful storage capacity make the Zoe an excellent car-derived van.