Compaid Kent CC RT Master Z.E. Minibus_

Renault Trucks has put the first Master ZE full electric vehicle in Europe on the road with Kent County Council. The 57kW Master ZE nine-seat minibus has a 33kWh battery pack giving a range of 120km and will be used by Compaid, a charity helping disadvantaged people back into work.

Handing over the vehicle to Compaid, Grahame Neagus, head of LCV at Renault Trucks, said that electric vans were “not just for parcels companies” and the deal was the “start of electro-mobility for Kent County Council”.

Renault is planning to put the first Range D and Range D Wide ZE right-hand drive electric trucks on the road with customers in the UK in early 2020 and Neagus said the company was in discussions with the DfT and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) about extending the existing £8,000 plug-in grant for electric vans up to 16 tonnes to the Range D ZE which goes up to 26 tonnes.

“We expect there will be something,” he said. “It is in the government’s interest to make sure there is sufficient incentive to buy electric vehicles.”

Jean-Claude Bailly, president of Renault Trucks Europe, said that while gas vehicles had a place, Renault saw a good future in more efficient diesels in long haul transport while urban operations would move to full electric. He said that while Renault was looking at developing an electric tractor unit for urban and regional deliveries current batteries were still too heavy to deliver an economic range and payload.

Bailly said Renault Trucks sold almost 55,000 trucks in 2018, 10% more than in 2017, and almost 24,000 went to its home market in France giving it a share of 28%. He was confident that Renault was well placed to meet the EU CO2 reduction targets of 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 through a combination of improving the fuel consumption of diesel trucks by up to 13% and rolling out electric vehicles for urban applications.

“We will cope with the CO2 targets,” he said. “We know how we want to do it. Diesel will continue to play an important role in long distance transport but the future will be electric for sure.”

Renault has delivered 50 electric vehicles to 23 customers on the continent and they have already covered over 1 million kms.

“Renault is the only OEM with a full range of electric vehicles,” Bailly said. “But they must be profitable and productive for our customers.”

Looking at the UK truck market, Renault Trucks MD Carlos Rodriguez said that Renault’s market share over 16 tonnes had been “cruising” at around 5% for many years and the company had serious ambitions to grow this figure. It sold 2,246 trucks in the UK in 2018 and Rodriguez insisted that the quality of the product “deserved more” than that, hinting at a double-digit share by 2022.

The company is investing in growing its sales force 17% this year and between it and its private dealers there will be a £30m investment over the next five years in the sales and support network.

It has launched Endurance, a new warranty scheme for Renault Trucks over five years old, to show its confidence in older, higher mileage vehicles.