Silent delivery driving a plugin Renault Kangoo

10 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Silent delivery driving a plugin Renault Kangoo отключены
RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E

PRODUCT EYE: Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E.

The old-shape Cayenne shows just how long and tall this ‘small’ van really is

White Van Man might well be in danger of losing his innate haste and stress, should he get behind the wheel of the new EV version of Renault ‘s Kangoo van.

Contrary to what most people think of these guys who sit close to V-max in the often sadly inaccurately named overtaking lane, I admire them. They do a highly-stressful job, usually for the minimum wage, sitting in what won’t be a good position perched as they invariably are on a designed-to-cost seat for long hours. No wonder they so often resort to flashing their lights at those delightful souls who squat in the fast lane at a steady 60mph for mile after mile.

I was thinking about what it’s like to drive a delivery van for a living recently whilst at the wheel of the new Kangoo Maxi Z.E. the vehicle that makes writers wonder if adding a comma where one is needed after its model name makes sentences look odd.

Driving the Z.E. is a strange experience too, but in a good way. The silence is just amazing and the slight whirring I heard is apparently the electric motor, not, as is the case with a Nissan Leaf, an artificial noise created to warn the blind of its approach.

The vehicle I tried was the long wheelbase Maxi derivative and it was empty so piled up with cargo (or fully peopled — there is a passenger version) it might well be quieter still. It’s deceptively big too — parked beside that old-shape Cayenne you see above, it was just about the same size.

Since the Kangoo Z.E. went on sale only a few weeks ago, Renault has had some luck, with the government here in the UK having extended a subsidy that was created for plug-in cars, to vans. That now means that the Kangoo Van Z.E.’s former £21,038 on-the-road price drops to £16,960.40. The price of the passenger version, incidentally, falls to £18,592.40 from £23,078, while the incentive runs until 2015.

The Plug-In Car Grant can be as much as £5,000 (it’s 25 percent of the purchase price), while for vans, a discount of up to £8,000 applies. As well as the price of the vehicle, Renault charges a £60 monthly fee for the Kangoo’s battery pack (if you need to know such things, it comes from an LG Chem factory in South Korea) and that is for a three-year lease during which the operator must travel fewer than 6,000 miles per year. Contract hire is available from £424 per month over three years, and there is a five-year powertrain guarantee, three years’ roadside assistance and a three year/100,000 mile warranty.

The UK dealer network for Renault’s EVs is now 20 outlets, which will be expanded later in the year in time for the launch of the Zoe, which will effectively be an EV version of the next Clio five-door.

The Twizy (I blogged about it here ), due to reach UK dealers in April, will also do without the Z.E. suffix, incidentally, but as the Fluence is a ‘Zero Emissions’ version of an existing model, it, like the Kangoo, gets the Z.E. added to its model name. Renault’s plug-in saloon will hit the retail network in May, giving sales staff a van, a quadricycle and a four-door car, to be followed by the Zoe — its global debut will be at the Geneva show next month.

So how about the cost of running the Kangoo Z.E. Renault reckons the van has a typical range of up to 106 miles on the New European Driving Cycle (there is a disclaimer that this can vary between 50 and 125 miles depending on several criteria) and costs between £2.50 and £3 for a full charge, according to tariff and supplier, with overnight charging being ‘up to half the cost’. British Gas, which has been brought in as part of Renault UK’s EV push, will also be launching green energy tariffs for EV owners.

Of course a brief cruise in the countryside near Bristol on a bright winter’s day is hardly a realistic test but I found myself warming to the Kangoo. Even devoid of a load the ride wasn’t at all bouncy, the handling pretty good for an LCV and the roadholding a similarly pleasant surprise — even on the standard low rolling resistance tyres. The view out is impressive too thanks to a huge windscreen and similarly large windows in the front doors.

RENAULT Kangoo Maxi Z.E

As for performance, the power output is quoted as 60hp (DIN), while torque is 226Nm. Zero to 62mph takes a leisurely 22.4 seconds but for a van, that’s not too bad and the maximum speed of 81mph is also acceptable. I don’t want to think what bombing down the fast lane of a motorway does to range, though.

I did find myself wondering if the smooth ride had a lot to do with the 192 lithium-ion cells arranged low-down under the loadbay’s floor: these are claimed to weigh a combined 260kg. The payload for the version I drove is 650kg and kerb weight is less than I had expected: 1,472kg. This rises to 2.1 tonnes fully loaded.

Renault thinks it can sell 5,000 Kangoos in Britain this year, of which Z.E. sales will be in the hundreds — possibly as many as 500 if the estimate of 10 percent rings true — that’s the share that Carlos Ghosn says he believes EV vehicles will make up annually across Renault’s entire vehicle range. There is also a one-off success factor with the Kangoo Z.E. — a few months back, Renault revealed an order bank of 15,000, of which two thirds will go to France’s La Poste mail delivery utility.

As the company’s PR people logically pointed out on the vehicle launch event, corporate fleets’ vans are mostly locked in compounds overnight, so recharging there makes sense. That could well be the range issue dealt with — a big factor in any decision over whether or not to buy one of these vehicles.

Several London-based FTSE 100 companies that presently spend a fortune on taxis to and from places like Heathrow airport are being targetted by Renault too. It isn’t just the potential money-saving that’s being promoted, either. All blue-chip firms now obsess about their eco credentials — using only so-called zero emissions vehicles to ferry staff can not only look good in the annual report but there is increasingly a large available budget at such companies for ‘green’ activities.

To sum up, the government grant has come at exactly the right moment for Renault UK, and the Kangoo-with-a-cord. Plug-in cars might be taking their time to catch on but in the case of the Maxi Z.E. I am starting to think that the numbers add up, and that the monthly sales tally might soon be doing the same.

Author: Glenn Brooks

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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