LCV electromobility and the future
EV Fleet World caught up with Grahame Neagus, head of LCV at Renault Trucks, to see how the future looks for electrified light commercial vehicles.
Can you explain what the Renault Trucks electromobility strategy is?
The strategy is simply to be able to provide our customers here in the UK and Europe with a range of 100% electric heavy duty, factory developed commercial vehicles that will allow us as a manufacturer to help society in reducing the effects of emissions and thus the air quality of our cities and towns. Alternative fuels are obviously a huge area of consideration in our industry and ever since 1924, we at Renault Trucks have been at the forefront of electric and hybrid technology, testing and railing new concepts. So now in 2019, it’s no surprise that we come to market with the ZE range of vehicles that start at 3.1tonnes and go up to 26 tonnes GVW, the first for a heavy truck OEM.
What does the range look like today and how might this change in the future?
Today here in the UK we have the full range of the new Renault Trucks Master ZE Van and platform derivatives that are at the smaller end of our ZE family range which goes through 16tonne rigids and out to 26 tonne rigid trucks too. The D and D Wide range of trucks are currently in operation in Europe with many large names and we expect the RHD versions starting to come to the UK late 2019 for full scale availability in 2020.
In terms of application, our moto of ‘Not Just Parcels’ is key in explaining to people that electric motive power is not just ideally suited for parcel and last mile logistics operators but also a wide range of other users such as Access platforms, chillers and minibuses to name a few which we have created.
This model line up in our world is, I’m sure, the start of something a lot more far reaching as the future develops and shapes, but certainly we offer the widest electric range in the heavy LCV and truck sector and with our vast experience, especially over the last 14 years since the Maxity Electric in 2004 and all various incarnations since then, we believe we are ideally placed to serve our customers and the ever growing requirement in electric motive power across a wide weight range.
What weight range does that cover?
Currently we start at 3,100kg GVW, offering around 1,100kg payload with the Renault Trucks Master SWB L1H1 Van and rising within the Truck range out to 26 tonnes GVW. There is often a raised eyebrow as to why 3,100kg but from our perspective we know that over 86% of conventional 3,500kg products run a 75% or less of total payload and with a traditional 3.5t van offering around 1,350kg payload, 75% is approximately 1,000kg so with our Master ZE we are able to address around 86% of the market today.
How will Renault Trucks differentiate themselves from the competition both now and in the future?
The main differentiator from Renault Trucks is our expertise in not only all aspects of our vehicles but the electromobility philosophy and the HGV aftersales back up we offer, which for any LCV operator is just a complete breath of fresh air and totally client centric. The ZE electric truck range is a unique proposition for an operator here in the UK and Europe and so this really helps us stand out in this market place and many other OEMs are talking about it, or have products in development, but ours is here now and because of this and our high levels of expertise, we believe that for those wishing to make a positive impact now, with a reputable brand, backed up by a class leading franchise network working 24 hours a day, then the Renault Trucks proposition is one that shines really bright. We are offering on ZE not only the complete choice of conversions, but also our Truck based telematics system VanTelligence as well as completely tailored finance and repair and maintenance contracts. It really is an end-to-end solution and certainly those who are keen on looking at electric vehicles as being a proper solution for their business, then the discussions we are having now and the orders we are taking now, are true testament to our strategy.
How was the launch of ZE Master back in November?
In a word – excellent. We had over 100 clients come to Warwick and also again to the first public showing in London and frankly were overwhelmed with the response. This is really the start of a new world with commercial operators venturing into the world of electromobility. The mix of people was also great to see as its not just local authorities or multi national brands, it is also your medium sized, regional based operators keen to build on this and become future-proofed against ever increasing legislation and for many these next purchases into electric ZE are the commencement of a new strategy within their own businesses too.
How has the new Renault Trucks Master ZE order intake been?
We gained our first orders just before Christmas and since then its been a steady stream. We expect to sell in excess of 100 during 2019 with an accelerated increase in 2020 and beyond, especially as many of the people taking them in 2019 are clients who have double digit requirements in 2020 and are using 2019 as a proving ground for their clients and operations.
Do you see an increase in the uptake and interest with reference to the recently announced scrappage incentive programme for SMEs in moving into cleaner vehicles?
The scrappage scheme recently announced is very much focused around the micro businesses and this is not generally an end of the market we have focused on as our client base has tended to be more regional and large fleet. However, we are always open to any enquiry.
Do you see Electric as the only route forward in the future of clean transportation?
As far as LCVs are concerned and the lower mileage (up to 300km per day) HGV’s are concerned, electric is the best route forward in terms of being silent in operation and emission free at the point of tailpipe. Within the HGV range we do offer in addition to the ultra clean Euro 6 step D engine technology a Gas variant too in certain models but our focus is really in electric because of its inherent advantages from a clean air perspective.
Where can clients view the latest products?
Our new ZE Master demonstrators are hitting the road in April and we will be exhibiting at a variety of shows in 2019 too. We will have one on display at CV Show 2019 as well but in essence, as we move through 2019, both ourselves centrally at Warwick Head Office and our Dealers will be suitably resourced for clients to see and discuss the product and its benefits.
Can a client try a new ZE vehicle?
Certainly, our demonstrators, both Van and Platform Cab with low Luton bodies are available.
What about finance and repair and maintenance contracts? Are they available now?
Yes we offer full finance packages out to 6 years through Renault Trucks Financial Services and our own in-house tailored Repair and maintenance contracts too.
Do you see this as purely a parcel / lastmile logistics need within society?
Not at all. Many of the clients we are talking to and have sold to are in other urban industries including chilled distribution, minibus provision and elevated working platforms for working at height operations, so no we firmly believe that our Ready for Business product and our tailored offers are equally at home with the ZE electric vehicle range, regardless of whether it’s one of the vans or the platform cabs. There are a mix of SWB, MWD and LWB vans with different roof heights as well as two versions of our famous platform cab.
And finally, what is dealer backup like?
Our 68 dealers are 24/7 and are being trained up to be fully appointed ZE Dealers with our main focus initially on the main cities and towns where our clients are being based and then across all locations. The investments required are seen as future proofing the brand and the Dealers as when we have an even more expansive range there will be even greater need to have more technicians fully trained. However, today we are more than able to support the clients and their vehicles in the locations they are operating in.