We drove the Renault Trucks Master Red Edition range recently & came away very impressed. Renault Trucks really do have a great range for the specialist vehicle sector & to make sure they have all bases covered, there’s an electric version too, the Master ZE. This model is available in a myriad of versions; Minibus, chilled distribution, cherry picker for example, are all on offer from Renault Trucks Ready for Business Range.
We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend some time in the 3T5 Z.E. L2H1 Platform cab, fitted with GRP box body. Payloads are 3,100 kgs Gross Vehicle Weight up to 1,050 kgs, or 3,500 kg’s Gross Vehicle Weight expected 1,400 kg’s.
Step inside & the cabin is very similar to that found in the Renault Trucks Master diesel range. There’s no gear lever as such, just a stubby gear stick on the dashboard which engages Drive, Park or Reverse as required.
For the white van driver, there’s plenty of cabin storage; 2 cup holders on the centre console, a small storage shelf underneath, a flip up storage area above the infotainment system, two massive door pockets & two more cup holders on the top right & left of the dash. Our test model came with a fold out clipboard located on the centre top of the dash, a single USB & a 12v socket. There’s also height adjustable & lumbar adjustment for the drivers seat, an armrest, a height adjustable steering wheel & in our test model, two front seats for driver & passenger, rather than a bench.
The Master Z.E. features the latest lithium-ion battery technology, with a 33kWh battery pack that’s been developed to improve energy density. The battery is mounted where the dCi-powered Master’s gearbox would be, forwards & below the load floor. This means that the Z.E. has the same access height as the Master dCi, while the load volume in the delivery van version is unchanged.
This being an electric van, when you press the start button you hear nothing, a little disconcerting, especially when you are reversing. Put the van into drive & the Z.E. moves silently away. Because there’s no diesel engine noise, the cabin feels strangely quiet at first. As you build up speed, some wind & road noise do enter the cab. However, with the radio on, or with your mobile phone connected via Bluetooth, to Spotify for example,or to make a hands-free call, this noise is not intrusive.
On a test route around Warwick, the Z.E. performed admirably. We were driving unladen & the Master handled really well, as we took in a series of dual-carriageways & local roads. Your speed is limited in ECO mode is limited to 50mph to preserve range. This was a little frustrating on the Warwick by-pass, when HGV’s are overtaking you at 55mph. Let’s be honest though, the Z.E. will be used primarily as an urban van & any van driver who specialises in short deliveries, will love it. No gear change make’s for relaxing driving & in town this makes the Z.E. a pleasure to drive.
The Renault Trucks Master Z.E. offer’s a large van payload of 1,050- 1,400 kg, with the practicality of zero emissions thanks to it’s fully electric drivetrain. With a claimed electric range of 160km, it will though, only appeal to those whose daily van use is low & whose journey’s are made over short distances- think NHS facilities, the Post Office or city parcel delivery- the kind of customer’s who can re-charge their Master regularly.
If you’re seriously thinking about a large electric van then it’s well worth remembering, that if you need to be looked after 24/7 & kept on the road, then Renault Trucks offer customers a tailored repair & maintenance contract, with 24/7 service & opening hours, all part of the expertise you’d expect from a truck manufacturer.
Being honest, the Renault Trucks Master Z.E. does come with a limited range of between 55 & 80 miles, dependant on payload & outside temperature & therefore, isn’t going to be right for all. It is though, fantastic to see another electric van enter the market place.
In Renault Trucks defence, coupling an impressive payload, with a high battery range, was always going to be more difficult for CV manufacturers than for passenger cars & so it has proved to be. This is the first take on a large EV van for Renault Trucks & they are to be congratulated for offering it in so many different versions. From our perspective, it’s a good first effort & as technology improves, we feel sure that battery range will increase too.