First Drive: Renault Kangoo Z.E.
For a start, it doesn’t shout about being revolutionary. Almost indistinguishable from a conventional Kangoo, electric versions of the compact commercial are only marked out by the discreet charging socket on the grille and bespoke gauges on the dashboard. There’s no sacrifice in load area, and even the payload is slightly more than the entry-level diesel engine at 650kg.
The changes are most evident once it’s on the road. Like most vans, it has almost no sound deadening. But in this case it doesn’t amplify a rumbling diesel engine up front. On the move the electric motor powering the Kangoo’s front wheels is almost silent, even with the mass of bare metal in the back.
However, this shows up other noises that wouldn’t be so obvious in a conventional van. Road and wind noise from the rear load area sounds louder without the engine to drown it out, though the overall experience is more peaceful, especially at low speeds.
There was no opportunity on the launch to test the Kangoo Z.E. with a full load to see its effects on range, but a stretch of motorway miles showed it’s quite happy to get up to high speeds without feeling strained and the range doesn’t nosedive when it gets there.
In the UK, the Kangoo Z.E. doesn’t benefit from the same £5,000 subsidy as a passenger car, which means the crew cab version won’t be coming here. However, Renault will be bringing a short and long wheelbase Kangoo Z.E. to dealers, with prices starting from £16,990 and battery leases from £62 per month for a four year contract at 9,000 miles per year.
At that price, it’s a large-ish outlay for a small van and will bring the biggest cost-saving benefits for London-based businesses looking to avoid the congestion charge. Not that other businesses should write it off – the a 106 mile range may sound small, it’s enough to cover 27,560 miles per year without burning a single drop of fuel.
The Kangoo Z.E. doesn’t shout about its achievements, but this small electric van is a clever product that breaks new ground for the compact commercial segment. It’ll take a long time to recoup the intial outlay at this price, but for eco-minded companies it’s a step in the right direction for reducing inner-city noise and smog which to some will be more important.
Sector: Light commercial vehicle
Type: Battery-Electric Vehicle
Electric range: 106 miles
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km
Charging port: j1772