Renault Kangoo ZE 2011 European Launch

5 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Renault Kangoo ZE 2011 European Launch отключены
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E

Renault Kangoo ZE 2011 European Launch

Battery-powered vans do not suit the requirements of all businesses, but for those regularly undertaking multidrop urban duty cycle work they may well fit the bill. Renault is at the forefront of manufacturers offering a mass produced factory-built electric van in the shape of the Kangoo Z.E. and it’s available as a Van, long-wheelbase Maxi Van and five-seater Maxi Combi.

Powertrain


Apart from having no tailpipe and an additional hinged flap above the front bumper which conceals the charging socket, Kangoo Z.E. is identical in appearance to its diesel counterpart. It’s powered by a 44kW (equivalent to 60hp) electric motor which delivers maximum torque of 226Nm from virtually zero revs. The high energy-efficiency of the motor means that 90 per cent is transmitted to the road via a constantly variable auto transmission, significantly more than with a conventional internal combustion engine; which is 25 per cent in the case of a petrol engine.

Efficiency is further optimised by the motor not drawing any power while the vehicle is stationary at raffic lights, for example, and the fitment of low rolling resistance tyres.

Energy for the motor is supplied by a 22kWh lithium-ion battery pack, sited under the load floor. Recharging from empty takes between six and eight hours using a dedicated 3kW wall box, rising to 12 hours with a standard 2kW domestic supply, and there’s an added bonus. Kangoo Z.E. has a Pre-Start function which can be set to bring the cab up or down to a pre-set temperature so it’s ready to roll first thing in the morning.

Combined cycle range is quoted as 106 miles, but this can be extended by up to 10 per cent by engaging Eco Mode which reduces the power and torque available as well as reducing the theoretical 81mph top speed. Activated via a dash-mounted button it’s disengaged either by pushing the button again or when the throttle is floored. There’s also a battery regeneration system which recovers kinetic energy under deceleration when the driver lifts off the throttle.

Because this results in a pronounced amount of ‘engine braking’ the brake lights are activated.

Load Area

Because the battery pack is located under the floor Kangoo Z.E. retains the load volume of the diesel-powered equivalents; 3.0m 3 for the standard wheelbase Van and 4.6m 3 for the Maxi Van. With the asymmetrically split rear bench seat in place the Combi provides 2.4m 3. but fold it down into the floor and this rises to 3.6m 3. Gross payload is quoted as 650kg across the board.

Cab Comfort

The cab remains relatively untouched — including the silly L-shaped handbrake lever between the seats which takes up far too much space and gets in the way — but the instrumentation has been ‘electrified’. Either side of the central speedometer there are two additional gauges; level of battery charge to the left and a real-time econometer to the right, graduated from light blue, through dark blue and then red; self-explanatory really.

A trip computer is included in the standard package and has also been tailored to meet the demands of driving an electric vehicle. The driver can call up miles to a recharge, the battery’s remaining capacity in kWh as well as the instantaneous and average energy consumption.

Dash-mounted, the gearstick is simplicity itself in operation with four linear positions; Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. Plenty of storage space is provided including an A4-size cubby in the dash, overhead stowage bins and a 1.5-litre non-lockable glovebox.

Renault has not skimped on the options list. It includes cruise control, a speed limiter, automatic headlight and windscreen wiper activation and rear parking sensors.

On the Road

Turn the key and the instruments light up like a ’70s Disco. Once they have settled down engage drive, press the throttle and the Kangoo Z.E. moves off in blissful silence. And it’s no slouch off the line, either.

Thanks to all the torque being available from a standstill there’s no need to be heavy-footed with the quiet pedal.

Lift off the throttle for the first time and the engine braking provided courtesy of the regeneration system becomes evident immediately. It very quickly becomes obvious that if driven correctly the Kangoo’s brake pedal becomes almost redundant. The knock-on effect is that an optimum amount of energy is being fed back into the battery pack, maximising range.

RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E

Switching to Eco Mode works very well indeed. There are still ample levels of torque on tap so why not make it the default setting? This would make much more sense in terms of maximising range and wouldn’t require any input from the driver.

There could then be a Sport (or whatever) Mode instead, switching the powertrain to the full torque setting.

Ride and handling are on a par with diesel-powered models. If anything we would say they are slightly better thanks to the battery pack lowering the centre of gravity.

It takes no time at all to become accustomed to driving an electric Kangoo and it really comes into its own in congested urban streets. Driving becomes hassle-free, relaxing and peaceful.

Finance Matters

One of the main stumbling blocks of electric vehicles is the very high up-front cost of buying one. In effect, the bulk of fuel costs are paid for up-front thanks to the expensive battery pack. Cleverly, Renault has taken this out of the equation so that prices (excl VAT) for a Kangoo Z.E. start at £16,990.

The battery pack is leased separately at, for example, £60/month on a three-year contract and racking up 6,000 miles a year. Increase the mileage to 15,000 and the hire charge rises to £87 a month. It includes comprehensive breakdown cover, as well as a tow to the nearest charging point (within 50 miles) if the batteries become drained.

All Z.E.s come with Renault’s standard LCV three-year/100,000 mile vehicle warranty, with the electric drivetrain covered for five years or 100,000 miles. In addition Renault is offering a ‘programmed maintenance’ service schedule, allowing customers to choose the best formula (years/mileage) to suit their usage, in line with the duration of the battery lease contract. Renault recently announced the roll-out of the first raft of dedicated Expert Z.E. dealerships (see News Story ).

Kangoo Z.E. is a pleasure to drive, especially in its natural urban environment, has very low running costs and offers a more than acceptable payload. Separating the cost of the vehicle from the battery pack is a smart move by Renault and we can see just one reason why, if the range fits with a business’s duty cycle, it should not be considered seriously; residual value. There’s still a question mark hanging over that one and only time will tell.

We drove one of the first Kangoo Z.E.’s to arrive in the UK on the 2011 RAC Future Car Challenge.

RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E

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