The nine-seater wheelchair-accessible minibus is the first Renault Master ZE in the UK, and has been adapted for up to two wheelchair users by Minibus Options, of Whaley Bridge.
Joining Compaid’s 21-vehicle fleet, including the fully electric Master ZE is the first to be trialled by Kent CC as part of its sustainable transport policy.
Kent CC cabinet member for transport Mike Whiting says: “It’s fantastic that we have been able to secure this partnership with Renault Trucks in trialling a fully accessible Renault Master minibus.”
He adds: “The vehicle will be operated by Compaid for local and disabled services in and around Paddock Wood.This trial will help us prove the ability of electric vehicles not only for public transport provision, but also for other commercial operations.”
Stephen Elsden, CEO of Compaid, comments: “We operate door to door, stop-start – it’s the kind of work that will drain a poor battery fast, so the Master ZE’s proven real-world range is fit for the job in hand.Following what we expect to be a highly successful trial, we hope to bring in more electric vehicles as we update our fleet.”
Offering a range of up to 120km, the L2H2 Renault Master is powered by a 57kW ZE 100% electric engine, with 33kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the floor to maximise loadspace.
An electro-hydraulic tail-lift to the rear is charged on a separate battery. The vehicle’s flexible seating configuration can accommodate nine seated passengers, seven seated passengers and one wheelchair user, or three seated passengers and two wheelchair users.
As well as zero tailpipe emissions, quiet operation is another benefit, as Elsden explains: “We pick up and drop off in residential areas, so reducing noise pollution in local streets is important. However it is equally valued by our passengers inside the minibus, who see the journey as an integral part of their experience, an opportunity to chat with friends. A quiet vehicle is a real asset for conversations, rather than having to try to talk over the noise of the engine.”
Maintenance will be carried out by Renault Trucks Essex, with work scheduled out-of-hours to maximise uptime.