Renault has been a pioneer in the electric van market, from the Kangoo Z.E. model in 2011, to the launch of its first hydrogen fuel cell Master later this year. The company has sold more than 4,800 Kangoo electric vans in the UK and it claims market leadership in e-LCVs across Europe, with a 15% share of the sector.
Along with a name change, from Z.E. to E-Tech, the compact Kangoo has taken its biggest step forward to date. Battery size increases from 33kWh to 45kWh, boosting driving range to a far more useful 186 miles (WLTP). The battery drives through a more powerful motor too, now pushing out 90kW (120hp) and 245Nm of torque.
The van has two driving modes, normal and Eco, with the Eco setting dropping motor output to 56kW to extend range. It is perfectly useable, happily pushing the unladen van along with similar performance to the previous generation van. More importantly, as the Kangoo E-Tech uses a heat pump to provide its climate control, there is no drop in heater performance when you switch to Eco mode, as with some competitors, making it a truly usable all-weather drive setting.
To extend range further, the van comes with three regenerative braking modes, which are accessed by pushing the gear lever to the right and then knocking it back and forward between modes. The first setting allows the van to coast, with no regenerative braking effect. The middle setting gives reasonable braking effect, for general single carriageway use and then the third setting provides maximum braking effect. Though not quite a one-pedal city driving experience, it does deliver enough braking to rarely need to use the foot brake in town.
Kangoo E-Tech models can accept up to 22kW of AC power input, or up to 80kW of DC rapid charging as standard. A 7.4kW home charger will take the battery from 20-80% in four hours, while a rapid DC charger will complete the job in just 40 minutes. Drivers can add 30 miles of range in just 6 minutes at a rapid charge station, for a ‘splash-and-dash’ top-up. The My Renault smartphone app allows drivers to remotely set charging times and to precondition the van before disconnecting from the mains supply.
Renault is launching the Kangoo E-Tech in L1 form first, with L2 orderbooks opening in a few weeks. An L2-based crew van will join the line-up later in the year. The L1 van has a load capacity of 3.3m3, while the longer L2 can now carry up to 4.2m3. The crew van copes with 2m3 with the rear seats in place, rising to 3m3 when folded forwards. The smaller model has a maximum payload of 608kg, while the L2 can carry up to 764kg. Both can now haul a 1.5-tonne trailer, adding to their versatility.
The L2 models also benefit from a 200mm longer side loading door, making it easier to access the rear compartment. There is also the option of an Easy Inside Rack, in effect a fold-down roof rack that sits inside the van, extending in a pocket above the driver’s head. This allows trades to carry longer loads, pipes and ladders securely within the van, without compromising floor space.
The crew van has a clever folding rear seat and bulkhead, with the rear seat ending up vertically behind the front occupants, to provide a new bulkhead and more load space. The new Kangoo can also be equipped with a 3kW DC/DC power take-off, that can be used to run conversions such as fridges.
Externally the new van is far more chiselled than its predecessor, with Renault’s signature C-shaped daytime running lights, sculpted sides and a ribbed bonnet giving the van a far more sturdy appearance. Indeed, the wheel track is wider, giving the van a planted appeal that was missing from the original.
Inside the cab the news is even better, with a much improved interior that also feels very well screwed together. There is up to 44 litres of storage space, with dedicated places for mobile phones and lidded storage for paperwork. Automatic air conditioning is standard and there is now a choice of single or double passenger seats. Renault is offering up to 20 ADAS safety and driver assistance systems, though standard equipment varies between trim levels.
Talking of which, there is a Start trim, from £28,100 after the Plug-in Van Grant, and an Advance trim, which starts at £29,100 after the PiVG. With an on-cost of £1,000, the higher trim gets Renault’s EasyLink infotainment with an 8” touchscreen, an electric handbrake, the twin passenger seat, a Wide View Mirror, LED lighting in the load area and reverse parking sensors.
Renault claims that the E-Tech vans should attract strong residual values, as demand for electric commercial vehicles increases. With that in mind, the company is offering some very attractive contract and leasing rates, including some rates that include wall box home charger installation for drivers.
With the Kangoo E-Tech arriving in dealers, Renault will complete its electric commercial line-up with the launch of the Trafic E-Tech later in 2023. In addition, it will launch a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Master van and minibus by the end of this year.