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Renault has no plan to introduce the ZE Kangoo as a regular model here but that could all change if a big customer such as Australia Post wants a fleet of them. In the terms of former federal treasurer Joe Hockey, the facelifted Mitsubishi Triton is a lifter not a leaner.
The 2016 Triton has taken on a more commanding appearance without losing aerodynamic efficiency as befits a truck of today. Combine this with good performance, occupant comfort, cargo carrying capacity, and a high level of safety and it's an attractive package for work and play.How do you think the Triton Exceed measures up to the HiLux SR5 and the Ranger Wildtrak?
It's called the ZE, for zero emissions, and this one is a demonstration van Renault has brought to Australia to try to show us that electric commercial vehicles could make sense now, not just at some stage in the far-off future.So, what does driving an electric van feel like?
Head clearance and shoulder room have increased compared to the previous generation Triton by repositioning the side glass, ensuring the cabin feels more spacious when passengers are seated.Generally, there is a more upmarket feeling about the surroundings through use of tactile quality materials.
Not that the ZE Kangoo is as slow or as basic as a golf kart but there are similarities.You press the accelerator, it moves away quickly.


It drives directly - there is no gearbox to create step changes - so the van simply accelerates until it reaches your desired cruising speed. The upside is that the electric motor delivers its maximum torque, some 220Nm, the moment you press down on the accelerator.This means you get away swiftly from a stop and have no problem keeping up with traffic, even when everyone is in a big hurry. The range is going to depend on the driving conditions, whether you're driving it like you stole it, whether the aircon is working hard all day and whether you are driving it on the flat or going up and down like a roller-coaster.Renault says that most drivers can expect a range of somewhere between 80km and 120km from a fully charged battery. Weight distribution is also better under all loads.Mitsubishi has designed extra reinforcement in the rear sub frame to enable the tub to increase overall torsional strength and provide a solid base to attach the rear suspension. Charging the battery takes six to nine hours.Inside, the ZE looks like any other Kangoo except for a different instrument cluster, which no longer needs a tacho.
The test van is a regular cargo model but in Europe it can be ordered in a larger Maxi format with two seats and a Maxi crew-seater that carries five people.It moves along like any other Kangoo, although it is about 160kg heavier for a total weight of 1426kg. The battery pack is neatly packaged beneath the cargo floor, so there is no imposition on the cargo area.


The extra weight of the batteries reduces the payload to 650kg.Australia Post is currently testing the practicality of the Renault.
The company, which is pushing hard with electric bicycles for some of its mail runs, is running four Kangoo ZE models in its fleet.
It will run them for a year, taking note of how the vans perform and whether the reduced range and recharging time is a problem.Australia Post will also be able to work out whether running electric vans makes business sense. Renault was not about to disclose how much a ZE van costs but it is likely to be two or three times the standard price of the van, which can be bought for $19,990 with a regular combustion engine.



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