Currently, the Renault Kangoo ZE all-electric light commercial van (LCV) has a 33kWh battery, limiting its practical driving range to 120 – 200km depending on load and weather conditions.
It also has only 7kW AC charging and no DC charging, meaning a 6 hour recharge time with no option for the faster times provided by 3 phase AC or CCS 2 DC charging.
In Europe, where many business do short local area runs, the cheaper battery and charger specifications still made it a viable choice for the price conscious commercial market. As a result, it has been the leading all electric vans sold in Europe since it launched in 2011.
Unfortunately, these same choices made by Renault to provide a cheaper specification battery electric van for their local market meant that it met a lot fewer business use cases here in Australia.
Zero emission, low noise and minimal running costs is the ideal city and metropolitan delivery van, yet here in Australia the current Kangoo ZE can only be a niche player in what should be the core market for EV vans, given it barely has the range to do a longer return run across most of Australia’s capital cities.
Adding to the current ZEs woes is it having no faster AC, or quick-charge DC, options to do a fast turn-around even if a business rarely calls for long runs.
Ten years after the introduction of the Kangoo ZE, falling battery prices and the proving of their charging technology in the Zoe hatch, allow Renault to offer a larger battery and improved charging in the Kangoo ZE and still remain price competitive – and that is exactly what is coming to Europe at the end of this year.
There, an all-new Renault Kangoo ZE all-electric van will be added to the new Kangoo ICE (internal combustion engine) range that is being released there later this month.
So what will the new Kangoo ZE offer? The battery will be increased to 44kWh (the old Renault Zoe size) and charging options will expand from just 7kW to add 11 and 22kW AC, plus up to 75kW DC.
Range is predicted to increase to 275km under the WLTP test cycle. (Link to https://thedriven.io/2019/08/07/why-are-new-electric-vehicle-range-estimates-often-so-different/ ) and charging times options will expand to include:
- 42 minutes to 80% using a 75kW DC rapid charger;
- 2 hours (to 80%), from a 3 phase 32A EVSE or outlet;
- 5 hours to 100%, from an 11kW EVSE or outlet (three-phase 16A).
- 7 hours to 100%, from a home EVSE (7.4 kW single-phase charger).
- 19 hours to 100%, from a ‘reinforced socket’ (effectively a 15A power point) and
- 26 hours to 100% from a domestic socket.
Mind you, that last option is unlikely to ever be a preferred charging method – it is more the much cleaner and convenient EV version of a messy fuel tin and funnel to get you to a proper EV charger – but without the call to ( and subsequent indeterminately long wait for) your local Automobile Association.
Along with the electrical upgrades, Renault have made a significant number of size, load access, driver comfort and safety upgrades to keep up with the rest of the fast-evolving commercial vehicle market – meaning you would not be compromising creature comfort or safety by selecting the Kangoo ZE van over an ICE competitor.
The big question now is whether the new distributor of Renault in Australia, ATECO, will continue to import the Kangoo ZE when production of the current one ceases.
Sadly, sales of the previous model ZE40 Zoe hatch ceased here last year when that model was superseded in Europe – but that was when Renault Groupe was still in charge of the brand here.
There are however some signs that ATECO may be more amenable to working with EVs, as a new batch of current Kangoo ZEs has recently arrived.
We can only hope so, as the range of EV LCVs on sale here is pitiful compared to the number available overseas.
Bryce Gaton is an expert on electric vehicles and contributor for The Driven and Renew Economy. He has been working in the EV sector since 2008 and is currently working as EV electrical safety trainer/supervisor for the University of Melbourne. He also provides support for the EV Transition to business, government and the public through his EV Transition consultancy EVchoice.