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Renault Kangoo ZE piques corporate interest

Charged up: The Renault Kangoo ZE is being used by Australia Post as a trial delivery vehicle, but other organisations have expressed interest.

Electric ZE Kangoo generating inquiries from local councils after Aus Post trial

Renault logo3 Mar 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

RENAULT Australia says it has generated more interest from business buyers in its electric-powered Kangoo ZE small delivery van, following an ongoing trial with Australia Post that has seen it integrated into the postal service’s fleet.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Trafic Crew and Kangoo turbo-petrol, Renault Australia light-commercial vehicles (LCV) senior model line manager Lyndon Healey said that other entities such as city councils had approached Renault about incorporating emissions-free vans into their fleets.

“Those vehicles are still being trialled by Australia Post and they’re still driving them, but we now have a dedicated ZE product manager who looks after Kangoo ZE and ... any customers interested in the Kangoo ZE, we’d be happy to talk to them,” he said.

“We’ve had plenty of interest from local councils, so Sydney City Council have been quite vocal about their interest in it and there are a couple in South Australia as well.”

Despite the interest in the ZE from corporate buyers, Mr Healey acknowledged that its higher pricetag and lower electric range made it a tough sell.

The ZE is sold at a low volume for about $40,000 each, more than $10,000 dearer than the current range-topping turbo-diesel Maxi Crew variant.

So far Renault has sold five further Kangoo ZEs to a fleet management organisation (FMO) and a business partner, but Renault declined to name the companies.

Mr Healey cited a lack of government incentives as a reason for the high cost and low take-up of the ZE, a common sentiment from local importers and manufacturers that offer hybrid and electric vehicles.

“It’s on sale, it’s just a very low-key thing – until there’s more government support for these types of products, you have to be pretty dedicated to the cause to want to buy one at the moment,” he said.

The pair of Australia Post ZEs stationed at Melbourne have government-subsidised recharging, with its charging station funded by the Victorian department of transport, planning and local infrastructure.

Precedent for Kangoo ZEs as postal delivery vans was first set in France, where Mr Healey said drivers experienced health benefits by swapping diesel engines for zero-emission electric batteries.

“The French Post used to have diesel Kangoos, when they swapped to ZE they got massive resistance,” he said.

“Within 12 months they had the opposite problem, where their absenteeism had dropped by 40 per cent, and when they tried to put some of them back in the diesels because they couldn’t build the ZEs fast enough, they all went on strike because they didn’t want to give up their ZE Kangoos.”

The trial with Aus Post began in May 2014 originally as a 12-month program, but the four ZEs (two each in Melbourne and Sydney) are still being used as postal vehicles.

Power for the ZE comes from a 44kW/266Nm AC electric motor paired to a 22kWh lithium-ion battery, for a real-world driving range between 80 and 125km.

A 3kW plug can fully recharge the battery in six to nine hours.

There is currently no end period for the Australia Post ZE trial.

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