November 19, 2019

Electric minibus marks milestone for Renault Trucks

Renault Trucks has sold its first Master Z.E. in the UK, to Kent County Council, reports Dan Gilkes. Built as a minibus, with conversion work carried out by Minibus Options, the Master Z.E. will be used by local charity Compaid, which provides training services to disadvantaged and disabled people throughout the county.

“Electromobility is not just about last-mile parcel deliveries,” said Grahame Neagus, head of LCV for the UK and Ireland at Renault Trucks.

Taken on a five-year lease, the L2H2 Master Z.E. minibus can be set up in a nine passenger plus driver layout, or in seven passenger/one wheelchair or three passenger/two wheelchair configurations. The van has been equipped with an electro-hydraulic tail lift which is powered by a separate battery.

Compaid has added the minibus to a fleet of 21 buses, to trial electromobility in typical use. Based in Paddock Wood, the minibus will transport adults to an education centre, from the surrounding area. All maintenance will be carried out by local dealer Renault Trucks Essex in Thurrock.

“In terms of public transport, our ambition is that everything will be electric,” said Shane Hymers, network development manager at Kent County Council.

“Kent is looking at electric now, not in the future. We are really confident that we can move faster than national government.”

Having launched the Master Z.E. van and chassis cab, the company will introduce its own D Z.E. and D-Wide Z.E. electric truck lines towards the end of the year, giving the firm an electric offering from 3.1-26 tonnes GVW.

“As society’s environmental consciousness grows, so does the responsibility of the industry to harness new technologies to bring about change,” said UK managing director Carlos Rodrigues.

“Renault Trucks is doing this through the tailoring of vehicles to customers’ applications, developments in automation and connectivity and increasing use of vehicle data to improve vehicle operation and customer service.”

“We strongly believe that diesel is and will stay the best solution for long distance trucks for years to come,” said Jean-Claude Bailly, senior vice president of Renault Trucks Europe.

“But, for us, the future will be electric.”

Renault Trucks and its dealers will invest £30m over the next five years in improvements to the UK and Ireland network. That will include recruiting more than 100 people during the next four years, a process that is being supported by the establishment this year of a sales academy. The company and the network also currently employ 120 apprentices, in preparation for growth to come, plus Renault Trucks has developed a scheme to convert car mechanics into truck technicians.

“We want to offer a more complete solution, not just the truck. By 2022 we want to be a leading provider of transport solutions,” said Rodrigues.