Its line-up now consists of the postage stamp-sized Twizy Cargo, the well-established Kangoo Z.E. – also sold in Maxi and Crew Van guises – and a more recent arrival in the shape of the Master Z.E.

At the same time as launching the battery-powered Master last year Renault unveiled an upgraded version of its Kangoo stablemate. It now boasts a range of 168 miles between recharges according to official NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) figures, says the manufacturer – a 50%-plus increase.

Sold solely in Business trim, the Kangoo Z.E. has been fitted with a new Z.E. 33 (33kWh) battery with greater energy density plus a new R60 (44kW) motor. A new 7kW 32A charger means the battery can be fully recharged in no more than six hours, says the company, and the Kangoo has become the first electric van to be made available with a heat pump to help keep the cab warm.

We took to the  highways of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire to sample the Kangoo Z.E. 33 – with the heater turned up to the max as it was bitterly cold and snowy at the time.


Detail Load Bay class=

Load bay

Rear entry to the cargo area – timber-lined on our vehicle – is by means of twin, unglazed, asymmetric doors with the narrower of the pair on the offside.

A sliding nearside door is a standard feature. The back doors can be swung through 180° and the door stays are easy to release.

Six load tie-down points are installed and an optional tailored rubber mat protected our vehicle’s load bed. The exterior is not left undefended – side rubbing strips protect the van’s bodywork from minor dents and dings.

Our Renault was fitted with a passenger seat that can be folded flat to extend the load bed. The section of full-height mesh bulkhead directly behind it can be swung out of the way through 90° and latched into place next to the driver’s seat. As a consequence, whatever is placed on the load area extension will not end up in the driver’s lap. The folding seat and swivelling bulkhead are options and boost the load cube by a notional 0.4m3 and the load length by 255mm.

Roof bar fixings are provided should you need to fit a ladder rack.

At less than 400kg, maximum towing weights for both braked and unbraked trailers are understandably low. Hauling a heavy trailer about will soon deplete your battery, however.


Cabin class=

Interior and equipment

Electric windows and electrically adjustable exterior mirrors are fitted, as is a 12V power point.

Stowage facilities for all the items drivers carry around include a lidded but not lockable glove box, plus bins in both doors, each with a moulding to hold a bottle of water. You’ll find two cup holders between the seats, adjacent in our case to a deep, lidded, optional storage box.

The driver’s seat is height-adjustable as is the steering wheel. It plays host to remote controls for the radio, and our wheel featured optional leather trim.

Our Renault boasted an optional R-Link multimedia system with a 7in touchscreen. TomTom Live satellite navigation, voice control, a CD player, USB and aux-in sockets, and Bluetooth connectivity are among other features.

Further options installed included air-conditioning with the aforementioned heat pump and a Tech Pack embracing rear parking sensors, cruise control and front fog lights.  

With disc brakes fitted front and rear, the Kangoo Z.E. 33 comes with various onboard safety systems just like its diesel counterpart. The line-up includes ABS, electronic stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and hill-start assist.

Included in the deal is RAID – Renault Anti Intruder Device – which locks the doors at speeds above around 6mph, and a driver’s airbag also comes as standard.

The Kangoo Z.E. 33 sits on 15in steel wheels, shod in our case with Michelin Energy Saver 195/65 R15 tyres. The wheels are decorated with plastic trim.

Detail Cab -cage class=


Detail Engine class=

Engine and gearbox

Power comes courtesy of a 60hp synchronous electric motor producing 225Nm of torque. It draws power from a lithium nickel manganese cobalt battery.

Electric vans do not have conventional gearboxes so there is no gear-changing. Instead, a shift lever sits between the seats, which you can deploy to go forwards or backwards.


Turn the key once, and turn it again so the green ‘Go’ signal lights up on the instrument panel, and you’re ready to roll. Then push the shift lever to ‘D’ for drive and press the accelerator, but make sure to release the odd-looking L-shaped handbrake lever first.

With plenty of performance instantly available the Kangoo Z.E. 33 doesn’t disgrace itself on the road. The lack of noise from a conventional engine means, however, that all the other sources of noise on the vehicle are immediately noticeable, from the slap of the tyres to the occasional creak from the suspension.

Pedestrians and cyclists appear to use their ears as much as their eyes and are often oblivious to the presence of quiet-running electric vans until they are practically on top of them.  Happily, though, the Kangoo Z.E. 33 features something called Z.E. Voice. It broadcasts a rather odd noise, which alerts vulnerable road users to the vehicle’s presence at speeds of up to 20mph – assuming, of course, they aren’t wearing headphones. It can be deactivated.

Like its conventionally powered stablemates, the battery Kangoo offers a surprisingly comfortable ride and sharp, responsive handling.

Low-speed manoeuvring – reversing in particular – can be a little nerve-wracking, however, because it always feels as though the van will suddenly shoot forwards or backwards. As a consequence you end up tickling the accelerator pedal rather than pressing it.

A dial to the left of the speedometer displays how much charge is left in the battery, one to the right shows how much energy you are using, and a central digital display tells you how many miles you have left before the battery is flat. An audible warning sounds when the charge falls to one-eighth of the maximum, and sounds again at one-sixteenth. When it gets to 5% the motor de-rates to 15kW or limp-home mode.

Accelerate hard and the predicted range will soon start to drop, so it pays to be light-footed. Pressing the Eco Mode button helps extend the range while making little difference to the vehicle’s performance, unless you’re climbing a steep incline with some weight in the back. Regenerative braking contributes to providing a little bit more range and is far less aggressive than the system fitted to the Kangoo Z.E. when it first appeared.

Although Renault is understandably happy to cite the official range figures, it clearly views them as optimistic. As a consequence it also quotes an estimated range of 124 miles in warm summer weather (at more than 20°C) falling to 75 miles in the bitter chill of winter (at -5°C), roughly what we experienced in what were, at times, challenging driving conditions. Put the air-conditioning on at the same time as the heater, however, and the heat pump will begin operating, boosting your projected range to 84 miles as it shoulders some of the burden. You can always opt for a diesel-fired heater, but that would seem to defeat the object of going electric in the first place.

It is not just using the heater that shortens an electric van’s winter range as all traction batteries operate less efficiently in cold weather.


Rear 3-4 - class=


The charging socket is mounted behind the big Renault logo on the front of the vehicle. One 6m 32A charging cable is included in the price and our demonstrator was additionally provided with optional 6m 16A and EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) cables.

The latter is fitted with a three-pin plug and can be plugged into a standard domestic socket, but if you do so it may take up to 30 hours to charge up your vehicle.

Other charging options are available, however, which can drive the recharge time down to no more than six hours.

So far as the Kangoo Z.E. 33 is concerned a home charging unit that can charge at 7kW is the best bet says Renault.

It costs £354, assuming you are eligible for a grant from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles.

Renault is busy rolling out a variety of connected services. They include Z.E. Trip, to help the driver locate public charging points, and Z.E. Pass, which can be used to pay for the power used to recharge the battery.

You have the choice of buying the van with or without the battery pack.

Choose the latter course and the front-end price comes down, but your regular outgoings rise, and battery rental starts at £49 a month.

If you rent the battery then its performance is guaranteed to retain at least 75% of its original charge capacity. If it falls below that figure Renault will repair or replace it.

Buy the van with the battery and it will cost  £23,343 compared with £18,677, but the battery is guaranteed to retain at least 70% of its original capacity for five years/60,000 miles.

Bear in mind that the government’s Plug-In Van Grant brings these prices down to a more palatable £17,741 and £14,194 respectively.

A four-year/100,000-mile warranty protects the rest of the vehicle. That looks a pretty safe bet on Renault’s part given the modest annual mileages clocked up by electric vans.

Emergency roadside assistance is included for the first three years. Service intervals are set at one year/12,000 miles.

Electric vans are not subject to VED or the London congestion charge, and the electricity cost per mile is measured in pennies – typically less than 3p a mile reckons Renault – rather than pounds.

The Kangoo Van Z.E. 33’s insurance group is 30, however, which strikes us as quite high. Finally, it’s good to see Renault has not decided to stretch the van’s range by a few feet by deleting the spare wheel and its extra weight. One is provided.

Renault Kangoo Van Business Z.E. 33

Price (ex VAT)     £23,343
Price range (ex VAT)     £23,343-£26,743
Load volume     3.0m3
Gross payload     625kg
Load length      1,476mm
Load width (min/max)    1,218/1,464mm
Load bay height    1,251mm
Loading height    609mm
Rear door aperture     1,194×1,194mm
Side door aperture     762×1,041mm
Gross vehicle weight     2,130kg
Braked trailer towing weight     374kg
Residual value     TBA
Cost per mile     TBA
Engine size/power    R60 electric motor/60hp
Torque    225Nm
Range    168 miles (NEDC)
Battery    33kWh
Warranty    4yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals    1yr/12,000mls
Insurance group    30
Price as tested    £26,272

* after 4yrs/80,000mls; source: KwikCarcost

Options fitted

Air-conditioning and pollen filter with heat pump    £965
R-Link multimedia system    £675
EVSE cable    £414
Tech Pack    £350
Swivelling bulkhead with folding passenger seat    £225
Leather-trimmed steering wheel    £100
Rubber load bed cover    £75
6m charging cable 16A    £75
Central storage with armrest    £50



Citroen Berlingo Electric

Price (ex VAT) £22,550-£23,150
Load volume     3.3-3.7m3
Gross payload     552-636kg
Engines    Electric motor (67hp)

Verdict: This electric vehicle has all of the Citroen Berlingo’s virtues but its claimed range is shorter than the Renault Kangoo Z.E’s, and that has to be viewed as a drawback. Citroen’s parent company, PSA Group, will have to upgrade the battery pack soon if it is to remain competitive.

Nissan e-NV200

Price (ex VAT) £10,095-£13,045
Load volume     4.2m3
Gross payload      678-703kg
Engines    Electric motor (107hp)

Verdict: One of the most appealing electric vans we’ve ever come across, the Nissan e-NV200 was being revamped at the time of writing with an upgraded 40kWh battery, which delivers 174 miles between recharges according to official figures. It’s a model that’s definitely worth a look.

Peugeot Partner Electric

Price (ex VAT) £22,550-£23,150
Load volume     3.3-3.7m3
Gross payload      552-636kg
Engines    Electric motor (67hp)

Verdict: A close cousin of the Citroen’s Berlingo but styled a little differently, the Partner Electric suffers the same range limitation when compared with the competition as its stablemate. The 106-mile NEDC figure quoted probably translates to closer to 70 miles in the real world.