The Renault Kangoo ZE is an electric van that makes so much more sense than a petrol or diesel vehicle for short urban delivery cycles. The Kangoo ZE has a number of advantages over a petrol or diesel vehicle. Firstly, it’s quiet. It also has excellent linear acceleration thanks to the 100% torque generated from standstill from its electric motor (making it feel much quicker than the official figures suggest). It has no gears or clutch, meaning that it’s extremely easy to drive, especially in urban areas. Of course it has zero-tailpipe emissions at all times, obviously including when stopped in the many traffic jams in cities – which is in contrast to most other vehicles which will continue to pump out pollution. Even modern cars with stop-start systems have an uncivilised mechanical intervention to get you moving again, something that’s certainly not a feature of the Kangoo ZE powertrain.
It’s also a very efficient vehicle, much more so than one with an internal combustion engine, as an electric motor has an efficiency rating of 90%. In contrast, a petrol engine only has an energy efficiency rating of 25%. In other words out of 10 kWh of energy, 9 kWh are transmitted to the road with an electric vehicle, compared to only 2.5 with a petrol vehicle. The Kangoo ZE is also very attractive from a cost point of view, being priced at only £16,990 (excluding VAT).
There’s more. It’s exempt from the London Congestion Charge and electric cars have been exempt from company car tax since April 2010, and will be until at least 2015. This means that company car drivers will pay 0% benefit-in-kind tax if they buy an electric car. Electric vans also benefit from van benefit charge exemption, plus the introduction of a 100% first-year allowance for companies purchasing electric vans, enabling them to offset the cost of buying an electric van against their corporation tax bill in year one. Electricity is also between five and ten times cheaper than petrol; it should cost less than £3 to charge the Kangoo to cover its official 106 mile range. Finally, maintenance costs of an electric vehicle are also around 20% less.
Although the Kangoo ZE is based on the same Kangoo van that is powered by an internal combustion engine, the battery is underneath the zero-emission version, so it has a low centre of gravity, and the battery doesn’t encroach into the load bay. Thanks to this and its short overhangs, the Kangoo handles well. The Kangoo van ZE feels nippy despite the official figures suggesting otherwise. It only has 60 hp (44 Kw) of power and takes 21.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-62 mph, with a maximum speed of 81 mph. The battery weight of 260 kg can’t help with the acceleration figures, but the 226 Nm of torque certainly makes it feel faster.
Renault estimates that 80% of Kangoo Van ZE sales will be to large fleets, with 20% bought by small businesses. Any business that plans to operate an electric vehicle will need a charging point. This will cost £799 including VAT for a typical domestic installation, when a full charge will take between 6-8 hours; for businesses, different charge points can be installed, for instance in car parks.
The Kangoo Van ZE has a 650 kg payload. There’s also a longer version called the Kangoo Van Maxi ZE which costs £17,990 excluding VAT. There’s even a five-seat Kangoo Van Maxi Crew Van ZE that costs £18,690 excluding VAT. The Kangoo Van ZE is on sale now from a network of 20 special EV dealers. Electric vehicles may be getting all the media attention, but the Kangoo van actually makes more sense than most electric cars.