Van world gets to grip with electric power

by Michael Moroney
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Electric car power is here to stay and become mainstream. Renault and Nissan have been pioneers in the use of electric vehicles with a number of models in each range. Michael Moroney took the entry level Renault Kangoo ZE electric van for a test drive, and quickly came to terms with his range anxiety and grew to develop a spark of affection for the small van.

Electric car and van power is on the way and we’d better start getting used to the fact that it’s going to happen.
Our health and the impact of fossil fuel exhausts on our cities are going to dictate the move; legislation will decide on the pace of this change.


Be assured that the change is happening with cities across the world now fixing dates when fossil fuel cars and vans will be banned, Dublin included.
Renault and Nissan have been at the forefront of electric car technology in terms of what’s available on the market. The two companies are part of a manufacturing alliance, which now includes Mitsubishi. They are forging ahead with readily available electric car technology.

For Irish drivers, the newer versions of electric cars are easing the range fear concerns. From a thirsty Audi RS4, I changed over last week to a super-efficient, all-electric Renault Kangoo van, to bring me right up to date with electric car and van technology. The change in culture was more than obvious, taking aside the fact that I moved from a luxury sports car to a basic and practical white van.


I have a higher power 7kW charging point at home since they were first offered and this made overnight charging easy with the Kangoo.
The van comes with one charger option, unlike some of the other electric cars. So if you don’t have a proper charging point at home, you’ll have to invest in one order to live with a Kangoo.

I do a longer out of Dublin region commute at least twice a week and I’ll admit to a level of range fear when I got behind the wheel of the Kangoo van as I pointed it in the direction of Portlaoise. The overnight charge showed a range of 230km so a return journey was possible, if only just about.

I noted that with steady 90 to 100km/hr driving speed that I still had a range of 160km when I reached the midlands town. To defray any range concerns for my return journey I opted for a mid-day fast recharge.
While the local double car charge point outside the local ESB office was engaged, I got my short power boost from adjacent Renault dealer Joe Mallon Motors.

There was time enough for some small jobs around Portlaoise town followed by a coffee to give me an additional 40km of range. Out on the road the Kangoo is as smooth and quiet as you would expect.


You just simply drive it as you would a normal automatic gearbox car or van.
The electric car acceleration performance is attractive while marginally poorer than the equivalent diesel van, but it seems lively because of the nature of electric motor power.
For the many short range runs that city drivers make each day, the electric Kangoo ZE now makes so much sense.

The range issue is no longer the concern for city drivers who rarely clock up than 200km in short stop start runs.
This electric Kangoo ZE is practical in that it has a payload of 625kg, just marginally less than the 650kg payload of the similar diesel powered Kangoo models.
This is because the van itself is marginally heavier as adding vehicle weight takes away from payload.

In every other sense, the van dimensions are similar. This makes the Kangoo ZE a practical city van option if it can suit your delivery needs.
The final and important part of the electric van difference is the running cost.
Renault claims that a full overnight charge for the Kangoo will cost €4 at the electric meter and give a range of 270km.

Compare that with the entry level Kangoo diesel van with a range of over 1,000km from its 60 litre capacity fuel tank which will cost in the region of €80 and if your van application suits, the electric version wins hands down.
Prices start at €28,190 which is €12,000 more than the entry level diesel van and that price difference is the one of the obvious reasons why van buyers are dashing to make the electric move.

In this case it’s not the economy, stupid, it’s the entry cost that’s putting off small business city van drivers.
That will have to change.

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