Renault Pro+ Master Z.E

Road Test
Richard Gooding

Adding a welcome zero-emission powertrain to Renault’s largest LCV gives the company the biggest range of all-electric commercials on the market, says Richard Gooding

The Master Z.E is the latest addition to Renault’s electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) range, and follows the revised Kangoo Z.E and Twizy Cargo as the third zero-emissions commercial offered by the French manufacturer’s ‘Pro+’ business arm.

How practical is it?

Six versions of the emission-free Renault Master are available, in three lengths / wheelbases – S 3,182mm / M 3,682mm / L 4,332mm – and two heights. The four van variants feature between 8-13m3 of loadspace and a payload of 1.0-1.1 tonnes. As the 33kWh lithium-ion battery pack – the same as in the smaller Kangoo Z.E – is mounted under the bodywork, the Master Z.E’s carrying capacity is identical to its internal combustion-engined siblings.
For added practicality, the rear doors optionally open to 270 degrees. The 1,270mm side opening door can easily swallow a Europallet, and the 540-560mm load bed height is among the lowest in the sector. Additionally, a pair of platform cabs feature two lengths and a maximum payload of 1,370kg and are suitable for high-capacity body conversions able to transport up to 19m3.

What range does it have?

Renault claims a ‘real-use’ range of 74 miles (124 miles on the now outdated NEDC cycle) in favourable weather conditions, dropping to 50 miles in colder temperatures.

How long does it take to charge?

From a domestic 2.3kW / 10A electricity supply, the Master Z.E takes up to 17 hours to charge from flat to full. A 3.7kW charge point reduces that to 11 hours, while 7, 22 and 43kW feeds tumble that to six hours.

How does it drive?

Badges and charging flap aside, while the Master Z.E. looks no different on the outside, step inside, and the dials will be familiar to those who have driven the Kangoo Z.E. Elsewhere, the very workman-like plastic dashboard remains, with lots of storage options as well as a swivel table and document holder for mobile office versatility.

Renault has ensured the Master Z.E is connected, too, with a version of its R-Link Evolution multimedia system. A TomTom navigation set-up aids journey planning, alongside features to manage range. Renault’s Easy Connect system also features, and on-board telematics report useful real-time fleet management data.

On the move, the Renault Master Z.E is similar to car-based EVs. An audible noise at slow speeds alerts others of the van’s presence, and around urban areas, the lack of a clutch pedal afforded by the single-speed transmission aids comfort. And while road and wind noise are both heightened by the van’s silent running, the electric Master is still more refined than its diesel-powered relatives.

Renault’s 76bhp, 57kW ‘R75’ electric motor gives decent pace for the Master Z.E, although speed will never be a prime concern for commercial fleets wishing to go electric. Top speed is 62mph, while an ‘Eco’ mode limits this to 50mph and dials back responses to save energy and eke out the range. The regenerative braking is effective, and despite its size, the Master Z.E doesn’t feel unwieldy, its light steering making it surprisingly manoeuvrable.

What does it cost?

The Master SL31 Z.E Business begins the range at £54,400 excluding VAT, with the SM31 Z.E at £55,00. The Master MM31 Z.E is another £1,000 on top of that, while our test LM31 Z.E tops the range at £56,800. The government’s Plug-in Van Grant (PiVG) will also contribute 20 per cent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £8,000.

To make things easy, Renault Pro+ only sells the Master Z.E with a ‘Full Purchase’ plan with the batteries included. That means one monthly payment, no annual mileage limit, breakdown assistance, as well as an EV guarantee of five years or 60,000 miles, which safeguards battery performance to at least 70 per cent of its original capacity.

Why does my fleet need one?

The Master Z.E is perfect for last-mile deliveries in urban areas, its zero-emission drivetrain more suited to the streets where its diesel rivals may soon be banned. Competitively priced with a decent range for inner-city work and the usual calm EV experience, the Master Z.E is a notable large and very welcome silent carry-all, which should suit fleets looking to employ a zero-emission solution to avoid impending and restrictive legislation