Renault Kangoo Z.E.
The need for reductions in carbon emissions, not to mention spiralling fuel prices, have been a priority for vehicle manufacturers for some time now. Whilst all are now obliged to install Euro 5 engines as standard, there are some who have gone down the route of smaller engines, and the consequent reduction in the mpg figure, whilst Renault has taken what could be described as the plucky step of putting its research and development money in electric vehicles.
Successive generations have heralded an electric coming of age, but significant shortcomings has always prevented their up-take on anything other than a very limited basis. Renault, however, is now estimating that electric vehicles will make up 10% of the world market by 2020 – and that is an awful lot of business for the manufacturer who is best positioned to take advantage.
The Renault-Nissan alliance, which is behind the vehicle that has sought to overcome traditional problems with electric vehicles (such as battery costs and weight), has invested €4 billion in its Zero Emission programme and one of the results is the Kangoo Van Z.E. Where this alliance really stands out from its competitors is in its battery leasing scheme. Whilst you buy the van outright, you lease the battery, which keeps the purchase price competitive and ensures maximum performance from your vehicle. The monthly lease payment figure can also be adapted to your vehicle usage.
The compact Lithium-ion batteries in the Z.E. are lighter, have no memory effect (which can result in incomplete charge cycles and a loss of efficiency over time) and have a number of other advantages. Since there is no clutch it can never stall and with no gear changes the acceleration is completely linear, making it just about the smoothest driving experience on anything on four wheels we’ve ever encountered. What you also get is maximum torque from a standing start, which means you will be pleasantly surprised by just how much acceleration there is to be had.
The Kangoo Van Z.E. has been conceived as an electric vehicle from the drawing board to its rolling off the production line and that is demonstrated in the design. Thanks to the central location of the battery, Renault has been able to provide the same dimensions and carrying capacity as the ICE model. The flat floor this provides also offers a maximum load length of 2.5m with a width between the wheel arches of 1.21m, which comfortably accommodates a Euro pallet. There is no reduction in the payload – coming in at 650kg – and the overall length remains at 4.21m, with a load volume ranging from 3 to 3.5m3.
The 22kW lithium-ion battery produces a combined cycle range of 106 miles. When the vehicle is at a standstill it doesn’t use any energy at all, whilst the system recovers energy during deceleration, which means that, unlike ICEs, they are at their most efficient in built-up areas, when a range of 125 miles can be achieved. If you drive an average of 80 miles per day, equivalent to 20,000 miles per year, the technology can more than go the distance.
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