Once popular as runabouts suitable for everyone from building site workers to security guards, small hatchback vans have gradually disappeared off the automotive map as customers have opted for something a bit bigger and more practical.
In recent times Ford’s Fiesta Van has had the field to itself, but it has been joined by a newcomer with a difference. While Ford’s three-door offering comes solely with a petrol engine, Renault’s five-door Zoe Van is battery-powered – and none the worse for it.
Based on the electric Zoe car, it is up for grabs with two different levels of specification: Business and Business +. Our test van was in Business + trim, but a more than respectable level of basic specification means that opting for the entry-level model is unlikely to leave you feeling short-changed.
The big argument in favour of the Zoe Van, according to Renault, is its range between recharges. You can achieve up to 245 miles (or 239 miles with the Business+ model), according to official Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure figures, the manufacturer says.
Aware that some customers still suffer from range anxiety, Renault is canny enough to quote some less-ambitious figures of its own to avoid disappointment. It suggests 150 miles in the winter, rising to 233 miles when the weather turns mild – a wise precaution.
Charge the van from a 7kW (32A/230v) wall box and you should be able to replenish the battery pack completely in 9.25 hours, the company says. If you have access to a 22kW (32A/400v) public charging point however, it adds, then you should be able to reach 100% in no more than three hours.
The Zoe Van joins an established battery-powered line-up from Renault, which includes the Kangoo Z.E and Master Z.E. Now offered as a 3.5t van, the latter model is sold through Renault Trucks dealers as well as through the car and van network.