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If you only need a compact LCV for inner city work, Renault’s Zoe Van delivers an electric option, says Dan Gilkes Urban chic

If you only need a compact LCV for inner city work, Renault’s Zoe Van delivers an electric option, says Dan Gilkes

There is nothing new about converting a compact city car into a light commercial, Ford has been doing it for years with Fiesta. Indeed, there was a time when Renault offered a van version of the Clio hatchback, to run below the Kangoo high cube models.

What’s new about the Zoe Van is the fact that it is based on a full electric urban runabout, offering zero emission deliveries for those keen to avoid the growing cost of inner-city transport.

The Zoe R110 has a 52kWh battery capable of delivering a WLTP combined range of up to 239 miles on a single charge. In real life, Renault predicts a summer range of around 233 miles and a winter estimate closer to 150 miles. Even so, that will be more than enough for most urban users.

There is a simple auto transmission style gear selector, that offers a choice of D or B for forward travel. D is of course drive, while B pulls in additional brake force regeneration, almost allowing one-pedal use in town. It drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission and an 80kW motor, which delivers its 225Nm of torque instantly, for rapid acceleration when required.

The van comes with both a Type 2 and CCS rapid charge inputs, hidden behind the diamond logo on the front of the vehicle. Plugging in to a standard 7kW home charging point will take up to 9 hours 25 mins for a full charge. If you can access a 22kW public charger then it will take 3 hours to fully recharge the battery, but access to a 50kW rapid charger will give you 80% in just 1 hour and 10 mins. That rapid charger will also pump in 90 miles in just 30 mins, making a lunchtime stop a viable option if you have a longer journey to complete.

Load carrying capacity
With 1m3 of load volume, the Zoe Van is hardly a high-capacity load lugger. That will, however, be more than enough for some postal couriers, florists, engineers and many other trades that need to access customer premises in the city. The van has a flat load platform with raised edges alongside the rear side doors, which provide easy access to the load area. There is also a mesh bulkhead to prevent the load sliding towards the driver or passenger. 

Maximum payload for this Business+ trim van is 435kg, which again is hardly massive, but will be enough for a range of users. As with many EVs, there is no option to tow a trailer.

In the cab
There are two trim levels on offer, Business and Business+. The standard van comes with LED headlights, front fog lights, hands-free entry and start, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, manual air conditioning, heated electric mirrors and Renault’s Easy Link infotainment, that comes with a 7” touchscreen and can pair with Apple and Android devices.

Moving up to Business+ trim, for an extra £1,250, adds 16” alloy wheels, Business+ recycled fabric upholstery, rear parking sensors, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Auto high beam, Traffic Sign Recognition and Over Speed Protection. The air-con becomes climate control and there is a wireless smartphone charging surface. You also get connected navigation and six speakers for the Easy Link system.

Not strictly in the cab, but drivers also get a MY Renault app that provides journey planning, including recharging stops, battery status, recharging scheduling to use the cheapest tariff and the ability to activate heating or air conditioning remotely, to set the temperature while still plugged in.

On the road
Renault’s Zoe car has been a big hit with early adopter EV buyers and it’s easy to see why. The Van is just so easy to drive and to live with, instantly making its petrol competition feel outdated.

The van is the very definition of a nippy city runabout, yet is also capable of holding its own on a dual carriageway or a cross-country A-road. Indeed, the performance is so lively that you have to show a surprising level of restraint to remain within the legal limit.

Of course, watching the remaining miles tick down is always a good way to get you to lift off the throttle pedal, but flicking into the B setting on re-entering town can actually see the remaining range rise, as regenerative braking comes into play.

Light steering, reassuring handling and near silent travel are all present and correct, with the only downside being a rather unsupportive driver’s seat, that could be set a bit lower. However, the trim level is high and you would hear few complaints from drivers.

Compact car-derived vans have always been a bit of a niche, but one that a small group of customers still appreciate. Zoe Van moves the game on and takes this sector of the market into the next generation. For urban deliveries or service providers, it offers painless adoption of zero-emission technology. 

Van User Rating: 4.5


Renault Zoe Van Business+ R110 Z.E.

Basic price £28,075
Motor Synchronous, wound rotor Power 80kW Torque 225Nm

Weights (kg)
GVW 1,988 Kerb weight 1,553 Payload 435

Dimensions (mm)
Load space length 1,220 Load space width 1,120 Width between wheel arches 1,000  Load space height 880 Load volume (m3)  1.0 

Operating considerations
Charging time  7.4kW wallbox: 9h 25m; 11kW charger: 6h; DC 50kW rapid charger: 1h 10 m Battery capacity 52kWh CO2 0g/100km Service interval 1 year/18,000 miles  Warranty  5 years/ 100,000 miles Battery warranty 8 years/100,000 miles