Renault makes all the running in providing electric-drive alternatives to inner urban delivery

Thanks to Toyota and its often-lonely pioneering work in making hybrid drive acceptable and available, the transport industry has come to understand the principle of adding an electric motor to a conventional petrol or diesel engine. The result is electric power on start-up, which then switches to the fossil fuel engine for general running. When maximum acceleration is demanded the electric motor cuts in as a support to the main engine, improving acceleration and reducing fuel consumption.

French manufacturer and importer Renault Australia and Australia Post have taken the initiative to roll out a 12-month trial with Renault’s Electric Kangoo Z.E. (Zero Emissions). This trial marks the first Kangoo Z.E. vehicles – Renault’s fully electric van – to be introduced in Australia.

Renault Australia currently supplies Australia Post’s mail delivery vans, and the two companies have come together to trial the use of fully electric vans for Australia Post’s parcel business.

As a global leader in electric vehicles and light commercial vehicles, the Kangoo Z.E. has been on sale in Europe since late 2011 and has already sold in excess of 14,000 vehicles worldwide.

The 12-month trial is the first introduction of the Kangoo Z.E. to Australia and a chance for Renault Australia to demonstrate Renault’s global leadership in electric vehicles to the Australian market. The Australia Post trial is an opportunity to work with one of Renault’s existing commercial partners and is an important step along the path to the possible local introduction of the Kangoo Z.E. and Renault’s wider electric vehicle range.

The trial commenced in Melbourne in June, with two Kangoo Z.E. Maxi vehicles, and will then roll out with two further vehicles in Sydney towards the end of 2014.

Renault Australia’s managing director, Justin Hocevar, said, “We are excited to broaden our existing relationship with Australia Post in rolling out this trial of the Kangoo Z.E. in Australia.

“Renault is a global leader in electric vehicle technology, with four models currently on the market worldwide. Kangoo Z.E. has already been a strong sales success globally. Incidentally, Renault is currently the number-one seller in Europe for both fully electric vehicles and light commercial vehicles.

“Through our partnership with Australia Post we are able to comprehensively investigate the business case for introducing the fully electric Kangoo Z.E. van in Australia in the future,” said Hocevar.

Australia Post head of environmental sustainability, Andrew Sellick, said, “Operating the four electric vehicles in Melbourne and Sydney is an exciting step forward that tangibly demonstrates our commitment to the environment.

“The vehicles will be powered by accredited GreenPower from renewable energy sources to ensure we are maximising the potential to reduce our environmental impact.

“While at this stage we are working with Renault to prove this concept, if the vans perform well across the range of metrics we’ll be measuring them on, the future potential is very exciting. We hope this initiative will ultimately help drive the commercialisation and acceptance of electric vehicles in this country,” said Sellick.

Power comes from a synchronous electric motor that produces 44 kW (60 hp) and peak torque of 226 Nm. As far as a transmission is concerned, the Kangoo EV operates with just one gear ratio with fully automatic operation.

For those posties intending to drive with a right foot like a feather, they can expect to achieve as mush as 170 km between plugging in for a recharge. If they are, however, feeling adventurous, or perhaps late for knock-off time, a heavy right foot will reduce the operating range to between 80 and 125 km.

It’s easy to recharge thanks to a six to nine-hour charging regime, and the driver doesn’t miss out on any of the current Kangoo safety features that come with the conventional engine version. ABS braking, emergency brake force assistance and electronic brake force distribution are all standard, and, with a maximum payload of 650 kg and a load volume of four cubic metres, it should be able to handle all parcel type requirements.

The charging station at Australia Post’s Port Melbourne Business Hub is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure.

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