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Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review

Electric Van With Dodgy Range
Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review 2012
It Might Go 50 Miles, It Might Go 125 Miles

Better Hope The Day It Conks Out At 50, It’s The Works Outing
rating: * out of 5

For – all the Kangoo lugging and utility qualities you’d expect
Against – not much use when you’re stranded and out of power

“When the range only reaches 50 miles and you can’t deliver that important order to your best client, do you think the excuse that the van produces zero emissions and loves the environment (although the CO2 is being produced somewhere else) is going to save your bacon?”

Manufacturers can’t sell the electric cars they are making without a huge subsidy, so it’s a bit risky for Renault to double down by putting this unproven, not-yet-ready-for prime-time technology into vans.

Introducing the Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. The Z.E. stands for zero emissions, and this simply means there will be roughly the same amount of CO2 emissions as in an internal combustion engine, but they will occur away from the vehicle, not emanate from it.

Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review 2012Renault says this is its first electric vehicle in Britain, and claims it is affordable, with prices starting at just under £17,000, plus a separate monthly battery hire fee from around £60.

I recently drove one of these machines and it was an interesting experience. You get a weird, windy echo from the back of the empty van. Put your foot down and, just like an electric car you get an instant and seamless reaction. The regenerative braking, which puts power back into the battery when the car freewheels or you take your foot off the accelerator, was impressive. Unlike on the electric Mini, which almost jerks you and the passengers forward when you take your foot off the accelerator, this regenerative feature was much smoother. It was quiet and relaxing to drive, until you remembered that the range is limited – it showed 49 miles when I got in, so the relaxation soon turns to range panic.

The version I drove cost £20,555 excluding VAT, and included extras like cruise control, connection for domestic charging, sliding rear roof flap, extra heater and air conditioning. The Kangoo Van Z.E. range starts from £16,990 excluding VAT, with monthly battery hire from £60 (6,000 miles per year, over three years). Contract hire is available from £424 per month over three years. Both include a five-year powertrain guarantee, three years roadside assistance and a three year/100,000 mile warranty. The Kangoo Z.E. has a range of up to 106 miles but Renault concedes this can vary to between 50 and 125 miles. A full battery charge costs between £2.50 and £3 for a full charge.

Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review 2012Handout
Luckily for Renault, the launch coincided with an extension of the British government electric vehicle grant subsidy scheme to include vans, which cuts the base price to £13,592.

Renault says, with forked tongue, that the Kangoo is targeted at business customers looking for an economical van that is more respectful of the environment. You will note that the Kangoo’s CO2 emissions are actually not much different from an efficient small diesel, so the quicker that Renault and its affiliate Nissan stops this environmental nonsense, the better.

The van is available in two and five seat Maxi versions, with carrying capacity ranging from 2.4 to 4.6m3, a payload of 650kg and the same level of comfort.

The electric motor is powered by a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery which provides a combined claimed cycle range of 106 miles, on a good day.

An Eco Mode function is fitted as standard. This restricts the motor’s performance and can raise range by up to 10%.  Eco mode can be overridden by fully depressing the accelerator pedal. The vehicle is equipped with a pre-start system. When the vehicle is plugged in, it is possible to programme the pre-heating or pre-cooling of the vehicle cabin. This function offers comfortable temperatures as soon as the driver gets into the vehicle and the system has no impact on range.

Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review 2012

An additional five kW heater is available as an option to heat the cabin while preserving battery life. This heater uses B30 or diesel fuel and requires the 13-litre fuel tank to be filled. The filler cap is located in the same place as it is on the internal combustion vehicle. This option has been included especially for markets which experience extreme cold conditions.

Pedestrian warning
An audible system to warn pedestrians, cyclists and scooter/motorbike riders of the vehicle’s presence when it is travelling at slow speed will be available as an option.

The electric motor offers an extremely high energy-efficiency of 90 percent, which is significantly more than that of a petrol internal combustion-engine’s 25 percent. This means that when 10 kWh of energy is consumed, 9kWh are transmitted to the road in the case of an electric vehicle and compared to 2.5kWh in the case of an internal combustion-engined vehicle.

Meanwhile, energy efficiency is further enhanced by low rolling resistance tyres. Can someone explain to me what happens to a car with low rolling resistance when it comes to a corner?

The maintenance costs of an electric vehicle are 20 percent lower than an internal combustion vehicle. There is no timing belt, air filter or fuel filter that needs to be replaced, and no oil changes are required.

Save your bacon
So the first electric van is here. Do you think that when the range only reaches 50 miles, and you can’t deliver that important order to your best client, the excuse that the van produces zero emissions and loves the environment (although the CO2 is being produced somewhere else) is going to save your bacon?

Renault Kangoo Van Z.E. review 2012

Neil Winton – January 10, 2012

 Renault Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.
Engine:Electric motor
60 hp
226 Nm
Lithium-ion 22 kWh
front wheels
Acceleration:0-62 mph/100 km/h – 20.3 seconds
Top Speed:81 mph-130 km/h
50-125 miles
CO2:zero out of the pipe
Length:4,213 mm
1,410 kg/3,108 lbs
Pseudo MacPherson/torsion bar
Service Intervals:12,000 miles in year 1, then 25,000 miles/2 years
Insurance Group:
drivetrain – 2 years unlimited then 3 years/100,000 miles - Vehicle - 2 years unlimited, then 1 year/100,000 miles
Boot capacity:
650 kg
Competition:none yet
For:all the Kangoo lugging and utility qualities you’d expect
Against:not much use when you’re stranded and out of power
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