One of the appealing features of Renault’s electric vehicles range, which will start to appear on the Irish market from mid-November, is the fact you lease, rather than purchase the battery.
This means the onus is on Renault to make sure the battery is fully functioning, and if anything goes wrong with it, the battery will be replaced. It also guarantees that the battery will be recycled at the end of its life.
It’s an attractive option for businesses, in particular, as it rules out an up-front capital outlay for a battery, which is in the region of €10,000 for the Nissan Leaf, for example. Leasing the battery from Renault costs €72 a month. You lease it for four years and if, during that time, improvements in batteries are made, there will be affordable options to upgrade.
Renault’s ZE range is 100pc electric and the first model to be released for sale will be the Kangoo ZE, a small commercial vehicle priced from €16,200 (including the Government grant of €3,800 for any electric car purchase).
The Kangoo Express ZE is basically an electric version of the standard Kangoo Express, which offers a range of 170km and takes six to eight hours to fully charge.
It will be followed by a five-seater family saloon, the Fluence ZE, again an electric version of an existing model. The other two models are the two-seater, quirky-looking Twizy and Renault’s first zero-emission small car, the Zoe Preview, which is due out at the end of 2012 and is about the size of a Clio.
I took a spin in the Kangoo ZE. The first thing you notice is how quiet it is. Representatives from Renault said it was looking into the concept of introducing a noise of some description to alert pedestrians which would perhaps use sensor technology or involve customers downloading their favourite sound.
The control panel is similar to one you would find in a standard automatic car. There are no gears – after turning on the ignition, you simply pull the leaver to down to the ‘D’ (drive) position.
There’s no clutch, just a brake and accelerator. Because it’s totally electric, there are no fumes and no emissions – you don’t have to worry about oil or water changes. I really liked the truly ‘clean’ feeling from the car – no nasty petrol smell.
Photo: Renault Kangoo Express ZE