Probably everyone who owns an electric vehicle knows the best way to get others interested in and inspired by electric vehicles — get them to test drive one. But it’s also about a little more than that for many people. Ride & drives are nothing new and have been a core tool for attracting new buyers for decades. However, top questions from newbies are approximately 100% of the time about how far an electric vehicle can drive and how long it takes to charge. A simple test drive doesn’t get at the root of people’s questions and concerns when it comes to those topics.
It’s also important to realize that cars typically need much less range than people initially assume and charging time doesn’t really matter when you’re busy doing other things (sleeping, eating, working, playing, reading CleanTechnica, etc.). Again, though, it’s typical that people new to the topic need more than a simple statement like that and more than a quick test drive.
Free Electric Vans For 2 Months
A county in the UK, Kent County, is taking all of that into account and trialling a brilliant new program. It is specifically targeting small businesses, which makes sense for variety of reasons, and is offering two-month trials of electric vans. To start with, Kent County has purchased 24 electric vans from Renault — 20 Kangoo E-Tech vans and 4 ZOE Vans (a van version of Renault’s popular ZOE electric car). The county said that it chose these 100% electric Renault vans due to their competitive range and ease of use, but that other electric vehicles will be added to the program over time. Eventually, over the course of the initial two-year period at least, the plan is to have 48 electric vehicles available for interested participants.
Highways England is also contributing to the scheme, providing £1.5 million in funding over a two-year period.
Renault’s Top Selling Electric Vans
“Renault and the Kangoo E-Tech are Europe’s best-selling electric LCV brand YTD and electric LCV, respectively,” Renault writes. In the UK, the Renault Kangoo E-Tech starts at £23,000 plus VAT after taking the Plug-in Van Grant into account, and Renault ZOE Van pricing starts at £23,450 plus VAT after the Plug-in Van Grant.
“The Renault Kangoo E-Tech can be specified in three body styles (Panel Van, Maxi Panel Van, and Crew Van) and two trim lines – Business and Business+. Standard features include electrically-operated door mirrors and front windows, ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with Hill Start Assist, and DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The Business+ specification adds extra equipment, such as electrically-operated and folding door mirrors, one-touch driver’s electric window, body-coloured bumpers, metallic paint and rear parking sensors. Depending on the model, it offers a load area of up to 4.6 cubic metres.
“The Renault Kangoo E-Tech has a potential range of up to 143 miles (WLTP) and can be charged to 100 per cent in six hours when using a 7kW wallbox. It is priced from £23,000, excluding VAT, after the Plug-in Van Grant. …
“Combining the same advanced specification of the Zoe with a load volume of one cubic metre and a maximum payload of up to 457kg excluding the driver (Business specification), the Zoe Van is available in two generous trim levels – Business and Business+. It offers a WLTP combined range of up to 245 miles on a single charge on Business models and via the 50kW DC charging option can be charged from zero to 80 per cent in just one hour and ten minutes.
“As it’s based on the regular Zoe, the Zoe Van benefits from the same assurances that Zoe customers enjoy. That means it boasts a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty that gives customers greater peace of mind, mirroring the rest of Renault’s car range. The first two years feature unlimited mileage restrictions, while the remaining three have a 100,000-mile limit. In addition, the E-Tech electric 50 battery receives an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.”
Renault actually has more electric vans than these on offer. Find the full lineup here.
Cleaner Air for Kent County
This “Kent REVS Up for Cleaner Air” program (REVS stands for Realising Electric Vans Scheme) is being operated by Commercial Services Kent Ltd (CSKL). “As part of the funding, and to aid with the efficient charging of the new Renault vans, CSKL has installed new charge points at its operating bases in New Hythe and Kings Hill, with a further 10 rapid chargers planned for other publicly accessible locations across the County. The installation complements Kent County Council’s plans to increase the number of EV charging points for businesses and the public across the county.”
A press release about the new program (or “scheme” as the Brits say) notes, “Notably, and in line with the goal of this year’s Clean Air Day to highlight the impact of air pollution on the health of children, the introduction of the scheme’s electric vans with zero tailpipe emissions will help to reduce roadside pollution that youngsters can be particularly susceptible to.” That’s superb messaging. Because it gets at one of the most important matters, and one that is almost always ignored. The health of our children is at stake, and pollution from conventional fossil powered cars, trucks, and vans are debilitating, can cause harm to both mental and physical development, and can even be deadly.
“Kent REVS also supports Kent County Council’s drive for net-zero emissions for its estate and operations by 2030. Together with investment in renewable energy and smarter working practices, core to achieving its target is a shift to electric fleet vehicles.”
The Business Angle Was Brilliant
Small businesses are quite ideal entities to give an electric trial like this. Naturally, they either sell a service or a product, and it’s often pretty predictable how much driving company vehicles need to do in order to provide that service or deliver that product (or buy supplies). That means that getting a handle on how much driving range the vehicle needs is not too difficult — you don’t have to wonder about a potential drive to Croatia for the holidays. Additionally, many businesses have a good home base where the vehicle will be able to charge overnight. See this recent article out of Australia as an example: “Our Transition To A 100% Electric Delivery Van.”
Plus, whereas a person buying a car for personal use may be especially swayed by style, brand, or some specific odd characteristics of a car, a business is primarily going to be focused on saving money. In the case of electric vehicles, while there’s often a higher upfront cost, much lower fuel and maintenance costs often lead to lower total cost of ownership. A typical consumer exploring the private car market won’t crack out the spreadsheets and conduct a total cost of ownership analysis to help decide which vehicle to buy. (If they did, we’d see a lot fewer gas-guzzling SUVs on the road, and a lot more electric cars.) Many businesses, however, are all about the spreadsheets and finding ways to make/save more money. An electric van from Renault should look good to many small businesses. But still … “will it really work for us?” That’s why this scheme is so brilliant. These small businesses in Kent and Medway don’t have to fret or wonder for too long. They can just take advantage of REVS and see how it goes. They can get accustomed to how often they need to charge, how long it takes, and how much it costs. Then, when the 2 month trial ends, they should have an easy choice to make.
“Making the transition to electric vehicles can seem a big step for businesses and Kent REVS provides a risk-free way for them to experience the many benefits over a significant period,” Tony Hills, Cabinet Member for Environment at Kent County Council, said. “The Renault Kangoo E-Tech and Renault Zoe Van were identified as the ideal electric vans to include in the launch of Kent REVS with their ease-of-use ensuring that all types of drivers can quickly get used to the driving and charging experience of an electric vehicle, whilst also being suitable for a wide range of businesses.”
To my surprise, this is not the first location to roll out such a scheme. “The launch of Kent REVS follows the successful implementation of a similar scheme by Leeds City Council in 2020, which was also funded by Highways England and features 20 Renault Kangoo E-Tech vans.”