Renault Trafic E-Tech electric review

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Renault's Trafic van finally goes electric. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

Renault's mid-sized Trafic van finally adopts full-battery power in this E-Tech electric guise. The brand says this variant 'cuts no corners on its combustion counterpart's strengths' and sure enough, if you can live with the driving range on offer here, the compromises are few if you want a Renault van of this size and are minded to make the switch away from diesel.

Background

One day in the not too distant future, all mid-sized vans will primarily be EVs and will run on proper purpose-designed EV platforms. But not yet. We're currently in a transition period where manufacturers are converting existing combustion-powered designs to offer EV variant alternatives to the usual diesel models. One of the very last class contenders to take this step is Renault's Trafic; which you might think odd given that its brand basically pioneered the electric van market with the very first version of the smaller full-battery Kangoo model, way back in 2011.

It took until the end of that decade for Renault to flesh out its EV commercial range, first with the large Master E-Tech and then with the tiny ZOE city van. Only in late 2023 was the line-up fully completed by the Trafic E-Tech electric that we look at here. It's a development well overdue for a Trafic model line that's found over 2.4 million owners over the last 40 years and is still the third best seller in the class across Europe. Let's take a closer look.

Driving Experience

There's nothing revolutionary about the engineering here. The usual diesel Trafic engine gets replaced by a front-mounted 122bhp electric motor powering the front wheels via a single-speed transmission. There's a 52kWh battery pack offering a potential 184 mile range, providing you operate your Trafic E-Tech electric exclusively in its most frugal 'Eco' mode. If that's not enough and the vehicle will only be used for urban deliveries, then you'll want to look at the alternative 'Long Range' model, which offers a longer operating range but has a top speed restriction of 55mph. Either way, there's 245Nm torque, which means a modest towing capacity of 750kg. There's a conventional hydraulic braking set-up which includes an ARBS ('Adaptive Regenerative Brake System'), there to maximise energy recovery.

All of the hardware in use here seems of the well proven sort and all is Gallic in origin. The motor and chargers are made at Renault's plant in Cleon, Normandy, the battery is assembled at Flins and Gretz-Armainvilliers handles vehicle electrification.

Design and Build

Apart from the badge work, the charging flap and the lack of an exhaust pipe, there's nothing visual to set this E-Tech electric variant apart from any other Trafic model. This full-battery version comes with a choice of two load lengths and (slightly more unusually in segment) two roof heights.

Inside, apart from a few instrument binnacle changes, it's pretty much exactly like a diesel-powered Trafic. Which means you get a very practical cabin with up to 88-litres of storage space (19.7-litres in the console, 14.6-litres in the doors and 54-litres in the bench). Plusher trims convert the glovebox to an 'Easylife' drawer with a clever opening system that makes it extra handy for the driver, this receptacle holding a full 6.6-litres.

The Trafic Van was the first LCV to come with a 'mobile office' feature that when you fold down the seat in the middle, sees the back of it become a desk (including a notepad storage slot) or a table for meals. This smart piece of equipment has now become a must-have for tradespeople.

Market and Model

Because this E-Tech electric model rolls down the same French Sandoville production line as diesel-engine Trafics, Renault has been able to keep its price premium over the combustion model within reasonable bounds. Expect to pay a very similar amount to that you'd have to find for its two most obvious Gallic Stellantis Group rivals, Peugeot e-Expert and the Citroen e-Dispatch. That'll mean pricing that should start from around £35,000 (exc VAT and OTR charges) after deduction of the £5,000 Government Plug-in Van Grant 

Like all Trafic models, this one get Active emergency braking, lane departure warning, driver attention alert, and tyre pressure monitoring. Various other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems are included too, along with a front airbag that protects both passengers. Among the features available are adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and traffic sign recognition with overspeed alert. Aiding manoeuvres are front, rear and side parking sensors, plus rear parking camera.

This Trafic is available with a comprehensive suite of customer finance packages including a 5 Year PRO+ Promise designed to offer a complete peace of mind package for customers. This integrates 5 Years' 0% APR Finance, 5 Years' or 100,000 miles Free Servicing, 5 Years' or 100,000 miles Warranty and 5 Years' Roadside Assistance.

Practicalities and Costs

As usual with an EV van, the loading area size isn't compromised by the EV drivetrain. As with the diesel model, the Trafic E-Tech electric panel van is offered in two lengths. The standard L1 configuration measures 4,998mm from stem to stern, with the L2 breaking the tape at 5,398mm. There are also two roof heights to choose from. Cargo capacity ranges between 5.2 and 8.6 cubic metres.

The Trafic E-Tech electric has a choice of three types of chargers: first, a single-phase 7 kW AC charger that works with all types of home outlets. Plus there's a 22kW AC fast charger for public stations, providing a WLTP-rated 31 mile range top-up in less than 25 minutes. Finally, Renault plans in the future to also offer a 50kW DC fast charger option. Lastly, via the MyRenault smartphone app or Renault Easy Link multimedia system (which comes as standard with all trims), the Trafic Van E-Tech electric provides several specific services including scheduled battery charging and remote battery status monitoring, scheduled cab pre-heating, advice on charging points on your route and a list of destinations you can reach with the battery's remaining range.

Summary

Under development, Renault will have an all-new next-generation Trafic E-Tech electric van that's much more sophisticated than this. But it will be a pricier thing that perhaps the market's not quite yet ready for, so for the time being, this initial full-battery offering to Trafic customers may be exactly what's required. These people though, are going to have to be able to ignore the fact that the EV mileage range of this E-Tech is some way off that of the class-leading Ford E-Transit Custom.

Still, this Renault is pretty much on a par with most of the rest of its class competitors in this regard and in any case, if you're going to be using this van primarily for urban deliveries, ultimate range may not matter too much. For such a customer, the 'Long Range' version of this Trafic may be ideal. In summary, it's taken a long time for Renault to complete its EV commercial range but now that it has, this electric Trafic needs to be factored into your buying decision if you're browsing in this segment.

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