As Renault charges ahead with another swathe of electric vehicle launches, Professional Builder’s Lee Jones examines the latest developments.
If the coronavirus pandemic teaches us anything it’s that our world can change very quickly, but that we are equally resourceful enough to adapt and overcome. Indeed, the demands of climate change and air pollution have already been driving the automotive sector on its own journey of transformation towards zero emissions solutions, and it is a road along which the commercial vehicle sector will continue to accelerate in the years ahead.
It is, of course, not all about keeping Greta happy because in the longer term, with ever tighter legislation, there will be a compelling business case for switching to electric vehicles (EV), not least if you want to comply with the increasingly stringent demands of ultra-low emissions zones in our urban centres. For builders, the time may well have come to look beyond the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE).
“A key priority for all businesses is the total cost of ownership savings that switching to an EV van can bring,” explains Steve Whitcombe, Head of Pro Plus. “Not only that, but the infrastructure for plug in vehicles continues to grow, with 2019 seeing a 54 per cent increase in charge points. According to data from Zat Map [a UK-wide database of charging points] there are over 18,000 devices available across the UK in over 11,000 locations, allowing customers to charge up to 32,000 vehicles through individual connectors.”
Renault can already point to considerable experience in EVs, having sold a quarter of a million such vehicles worldwide since 2011, and boasting a 31 per cent market share in a sector that grew by a prodigious 190 per cent in 2019 alone. The French manufacturer can now boast a considerable choice of payloads and body options across is electric portfolio and the launch of the new 3 ½ tonne Renault Master Z.E. is a further extension. Previously only available as a 3.1 tonne, the new model is available in panel van, chassis cab, and platform cab versions.
Crucially for the end user, thanks to an additional 375kg of payload compared to the previous Master Z.E., there’s no compromise on cargo carrying capacity. The EV panel van version will, in fact, deliver the same builder-friendly 1,490kg capability as its diesel counterpart, in a rear load space that ranges from 8-13m3 across the three different lengths and two heights available.
The lithium ion 33kW hr battery provides a range of 75 miles, whilst the 57kW power unit delivers torque of 225Nm. The likes of regenerative braking, and eco mode will help to optimise the range, and the vehicle can be charged in just six hours from a seven-kW wall box. Prices for the Master Z.E. 3 ½ tonne model start from £52,000 plus VAT.
Since going on sale in 2017, the Kangoo Z.E. continues to be a hit, with a 217 per cent increase in 2019 compared to the previous year. Now, with the introduction of the Business variant, the trim levels on this popular EV have been expanded to mirror those on its diesel sibling. The new model retains a 33kW hr battery and 44kW motor and 143-mile range, with payloads between 605 and 640kg.
The Business+ features £1,070 worth of equipment for just £600 compared to the Business version. On the outside, it benefits from metallic paint with body-coloured bumpers front and rear, while electrically operated and folding door mirrors are finished in gloss black. Inside, driver and passenger can enjoy a central armrest with storage below and an overhead parcel shelf. At the business end of the vehicle, the load area is equipped with a practical rubber floor covering, whilst tradespeople can make short work of navigating tighter sites with rear parking sensors.
The Kango Z.E. also benefits from the Renault Pro Plus 3-year, 100,000-mile warranty. In addition, access to living these electric dreams can be facilitated through a range of finance packages, including a five year 0 per cent hire purchase agreement. Renault’s new Drive Now, Pay Later initiative provides a three month payment holiday on chosen vehicles, whilst the Select & Collect stock reservation tool allows van users to pick their preferred model from existing stock, which can then be ready to drive away immediately. A four day test drive programme gives customers a true experience of owning a Renault commercial vehicle and an ‘EV café’ has been introduced during lockdown to allow customers who were pondering the move to electric to discuss it with the experts.
For further information on the Renault range of electric light commercial vehicles go to https://www.renault.co.uk/electric-vehicles.html