Probably the vehicle with the most marketplace impact at next weeks Geneva Show will be the Renault Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.. It's a viable electric commercial vehicle with orders being taken now and will be available before year's end in short and long (an extra 40 cm) wheelbase in two seat or a clever five seat crew van version offering four different interior layouts and a rear bench seat that folds into the floor for a completely flat deck.
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The 22kWh lithium-ion battery is located beneath the floor, is leased by the van owner at GBP59 per month regardless of whether you buy or lease the vehicle, and drives a 44kW electric motor for a range of 105 miles.
A lot of emphasis has been placed on the Man Machine Interface and there's a range of connected services for the public and a connected Fleet Asset Management suite for fleet managers. Every option available for the established and vast Kangoo petrol model range is available in the electric version too.
Official Renault press release:
Renault launched its electric vehicle offensive in 2008 with the announcement of its comprehensive, upcoming line-up of four vehicles. The first of these is due to go on sale this autumn, and the brand is today pleased to announce that the original list will now be extended thanks to the availability of a new version of Kangoo Van Z.E. As a result, Renault will have not just one, but two electric vehicles in the compact van segment by the end of 2011, enabling business customers to choose the zero-emission vehicle that best suits their specific needs.
A versatile two- or five-seat van
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. is an extended version of Kangoo Van Z.E. which was unveiled at last year's Hannover Motor Show. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 40cm to obtain an overall length of 4.60 metres, and this modular, versatile van will be available in two- and five-seat form.
The first of these two versions essentially targets transport use. Its two front seats are separated from the cargo carrying area by an optional bulkhead. This configuration optimises Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.'s carrying capacity and is unprecedented in the small electric van segment: - A carrying capacity of up to 4.6m3 (which is 1.1m3 more than Kangoo Van Z.E.). - Maximum load length of up to 2.90 metres. - Its height of just 1.82 metres permits access to underground car parks. - The equipment and options that can be ordered for the internal combustion-engined version of Kangoo Van Maxi will also be available for Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E.
The crew van version of Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. comes with a 60/40-split folding rear benchseat and seats up to five occupants. This modular van can be put into one of four different interior layouts depending on the number of passengers. The rear benchseat folds away into the floor to produce a completely flat deck and free up almost 3.4m3 of carrying space.
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. will appeal to business customers (fleet owners, trades people, public authorities, etc.) who are looking for maximum carrying capacity, and in the case of the crew van version, additionally a people carrier and who wish to lower their fleet CO2 emissions.
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. carries over the same overall interior and exterior styling as the internal combustion-engined version. A choice of nine standard body colours will be available, while customers will also be able to specify the livery of their own company. The model will be built at Renault's MCA plant (Maubeuge Carrosserie Automobile) in France, on the same production lines as those which manufacture the rest of the Kangoo Van range, a pledge of high quality and quick start-up.
An all-electric vehicle for 'Z.E.N.' motoring
The electrically-powered Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. is recognisable at first glance thanks to the chrome Z.E. badging at the rear and on the body sides, as well as the absence of an exhaust and the inclusion of a flap at the front which will enable the battery to be charged in between six and eight hours.
The bonnet conceals a 44kW motor (equivalent to 60hp) which is powered by a 22kWh lithium-ion battery located beneath the floor. The vehicle's combined-cycle range of 105 miles can vary one way or the other depending on factors such as type of road, temperature, terrain or driving style.
To optimise range management, the dashboard has been revised to incorporate a new MMI (Man Machine Interface) which displays the battery's level of charge and the vehicle's remaining range (in miles). The Eco-driving mode and the ability to pre-heat the vehicle while the battery is being charged have also been developed to maximise the range. Last but not least, to further optimise range and reassure customers, Renault will market a number of connected services, tailored to meet the needs of individual motorists (Connected Pack) or fleet managers (Fleet Asset Management).
In addition to the satisfaction of contributing to the zero-emission mobility drive (zero CO2 and particulate emissions), driving Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. delivers a whole new type of motoring pleasure. Thanks to the availability of peak torque (226Nm) the moment the driver pulls away, plus responsive acceleration at low speeds, a silent ride and the absence of gearshifts, Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. combines unprecedented performance and comfort.
Maxi carrying ability – mini prices
Renault has always said that the success of electric vehicles will depend on the availability of truly affordable vehicles. To attract customers, ecology and real economies must go hand in hand. With Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E., Renault has succeeded in combining maximum carrying capacity with zero emissions4 at an affordable price.
Kangoo Van Maxi Z.E. will go on sale at the end of 2011 in Europe at a price of £17,990 (excluding VAT) for the two-seat version, or £18,690 for the five-seat crew van version. At the time of going to press, light commercial vehicles are not eligible for the UK's Plug-In Car Grant.
As is the case for the rest of its electric vehicle range, Renault separates ownership of the vehicle and battery to ensure optimal capacity of the latter throughout the vehicle's working life. Customers will either buy or lease their vans and take out a monthly subscription for the battery, with UK pricing starting from £59 month excluding VAT, based on 9,000 miles and 48 month commitment.
Meanwhile, running costs – including battery lease, the electricity required for battery charging (GBP2.50 average for a full charge) and maintenance – will be similar to those of an equivalent internal combustion-engined vehicle when the annual distance travelled is less than 9,375 miles. They will be competitive when the annual distance travelled exceeds this figure.
By the end of 2011, the Kangoo Van line-up will offer business customers a unique range, enabling them to choose the solution that matches their needs the closest. The market's most comprehensive and diversified compact van range features seven models, a choice of three lengths and three energy types (petrol, diesel or electric) to ensure that Kangoo Van remains a step ahead of its rivals.View gallery - 15 images