In-depth reviews

Renault Master E-TECH van review

The Renault Master E-TECH is one of the largest electric vans around, but its scope is somewhat limited by its range

Overall rating

2.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Massive cargo volume
  • Good payload
  • Easy to drive

Cons

  • High list price
  • Short trips only
  • Bulky for urban driving
Van typeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Electric124 miles6hrs (0-100%)N/a

The Renault Master E-TECH is a fully electric large panel van. Like the regular Master, it has a handful of rivals that you might also consider, including the Citroen e-Relay, Peugeot e-Boxer, Fiat e-Ducato and Mercedes eSprinter.

The Renault was one of the first large panel vans available with electric power, and it’s still an interesting choice for businesses doing short trips in London or other large cities. Of course, it’s exempt from the London Congestion Charge and other charges for entering Clean Air Zones. These short-range ‘last-mile’ deliveries are what the Renault is designed for, but its large size means it’s able to carry a lot of cargo. 

The Master E-TECH is largely similar to the diesel version, but instead of an engine there's an electric motor and battery shared with the Kangoo E-TECH. The Master body means there’s as much cargo capacity as Renault’s larger van model and it can manage the 70 miles per day that Renault says is average for ‘last-mile’ delivery businesses.

The electric motor is also shared with other Renault electric cars including the ZOE and the 33kWh battery is the same as well. There’s still eight to 19 cubic metres of space available, depending on which body style you choose, as the electric motor and battery are fitted in place of the diesel engine rather than taking up any space in the back of the van.

The small motor and battery seem a bit out of place in the large and heavy Master, as while the official range is 124 miles, Renault’s own range calculator admits that even with careful driving, air-con off and nothing in the load bay, the van will only manage 115 miles. Start making deliveries with a lot of stuff on board and you’d be lucky to see 85 miles – but that does seem to be enough for a day of deliveries in a congested city.

Charging is done using a standard Type 2 cable, and Renault claims that a full charge from flat can take six hours when using a wallbox. From the mains, it takes far longer, at 17 hours. When you buy the Master E-TECH, Renault will consult with you about charging options, and it’s best to have a high-voltage wallbox available where the van is most likely to be parked overnight.

Master E-TECH buyers have a choice of panel van, platform cab and chassis cab formats, with three lengths (L1, L2, L3), two heights (H1, H2) and a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 3.1 or 3.5 tons, allowing a payload of up to 1,700kg of payload (before conversion). The platform cabs can have bespoke bodywork added from recommended conversion companies.

On the road, the Master E-TECH has enough grunt to keep pace with traffic, but it’s hardly what you’d call fast. There’s plenty of torque to make light work of a heavy payload (the maximum offered is just under 1.2 tonnes), although if you do carry a big load on board, expect the driving range to reduce.

There’s an Eco button on the dash that helps preserve the Master E-TECH’s range by cutting throttle response and limiting top speed to 50mph (down from 68mph), but this is as frustrating as it is useful, as it blunts the van’s performance. Other than that, driving the Master Z.E. is just like driving the diesel version. In fact, it’s slightly better, because it’s quiet, refined and the standard automatic gearbox takes the strain out of the experience.

Overall, the Master E-TECH is a niche electric vehicle that'll cater to a very specific sector of the market. It beat its rivals to the punch, but unless you’re running a last-mile delivery company making multiple drops in a busy urban area, it’s unlikely to cater for your needs.

The relatively short range means it’s not going to venture much further than city streets. But if that’s where you’re going to use it, the Master E-TECH makes a lot of sense. It has masses of cargo space, is easy to drive and has the same conversion options available as the diesel Master. It’s a great showcase for the future of urban deliveries that’s available to buy today. For a more detailed look at the Renault Master E-TECH, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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