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ELECTRIC CARS

Renault says its Kangoo ZE can save fleet operators money

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Singapore

SAVE the environment and money at the same time? That is the proposition that Renault is pitching to fleet operators here with the new Kangoo ZE, a battery-powered panel van launched here on Wednesday.

It can travel up to 264km before needing to be recharged, which takes around 5 hours, and costs S$7.33 at current electricity tariffs.

As Electric Vehicles (EVs) have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel ones, their servicing costs are roughly two-thirds lower.

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According to calculations from Wearnes Automotive, the local Renault importer, running a Kangoo ZE costs just 3 Singapore cents per kilometre. Operating a comparable "combustion engine vehicle" would cost 10 Singapore cents per kilometre, says Wearnes.

After factoring in servicing costs and road tax, the Kangoo ZE would save its operator S$3,171 a year, according to Wearnes.

But there are other reasons to go electric, said Emmanuel Bouvier, marketing director for Renault Asia-Pacific, at the Kangoo ZE's launch. "EVs are always extremely pleasant to drive. They are silent, they offer good torque, they are the only zero-emission solution in terms of powertrain."

They also boast excellent reliability, he added.

Power grid operator SP Group currently runs a fleet of 30 EVs that includes older versions of the Kangoo ZE.

In more than 140,000km of cumulative driving, the company's fleet has seen zero breakdowns, according to Goh Chee Kiong, the group's head of strategic planning. SP Group is planning to phase out combustion engines in its entire fleet of around 300 vehicles and switch to EVs.

While there are compelling reasons to go electric, there is one barrier: upfront cost.

The Kangoo ZE costs S$25,000 more than a diesel-powered Kangoo with an automatic transmission. Even if the battery-powered version does save its operator more than S$3,000 a year, it would take more than eight years to offset the higher cost of buying one.

Mr Goh said studies have shown that by 2025, EVs will come down in price until they offer cost parity with combustion vehicles.

Until then, fleet operators will have to spend more to save.