Regenerative braking… and beyond!

Over the past 12 months, we have been extolling the many benefits of our beloved Renault Kangoo Z.E. By now you probably know about its spacious interior, smooth driving, and silent operation. You’ve heard us brag about the cost savings, ease of charging, and convenient network of public charge points. We’ve shared our commitment to the environment and the joys of being part of a wider e-cars community. In case you still had some doubts about e-cars, we thought we’d share some of the lesser known benefits of our Renault Kangoo Z.E., specifically the Energy Recovery System.

In over a year of constant use at Glenisk, the Kangoo Z.E. has required absolutely no maintenance whatsoever. With less moving parts and high-quality construction, our electric van saves us money on maintenance over time. For example, to reduce our speed in the Kangoo Z.E. all we have to do is take our foot off the accelerator and the van slows itself down (all while re-capturing some of that kinetic energy to re-charge the battery, but more on that later). By driving without frequent breaking, we have minimized any wear and tear on our brakes. Happy days!

So what about that ‘regenerative braking’ stuff? What’s that like? When the van is slowing down, the Kangoo Z.E.’s Energy Recovery System is in full swing, re-capturing the kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat. It takes all of one trip in the van to get used to, and the natural slowing of the vehicle is a nice feeling, knowing you are adding a bit back into your battery every time! In fact, it has become one of our favourite features of the van (and it is quite a disappointment to go back to slamming on the breaks in regular cars!).

So here’s how it works: When accelerating in the vehicle, the Kangoo Z.E. uses the electricity stored in the battery to power the van. When decelerating, however, the Kangoo Z.E.’s motor is able to capture the kinetic energy of slowing down and convert it into an electric current, which is added back into the car’s battery. Genius! This makes driving an electric van a bit counter-intuitive, as it gets better mileage from city driving (as opposed to constant speed on the motorway).

One of our favourite ways to watch the Kangoo Z.E.’s Energy Recovery System in action is by glancing at the Econometer. This feature shows instantaneous battery consumption, i.e. how many KW we are using or saving at any given time. The difference between using +30 KW to power up a hill and watching the dial turn to -30 KW when exiting the motorway is phenomenal. It also means that the vehicle is less sensitive to weight, as any added load on the uphill increases regeneration capacity on the downhill. We’ve experienced no reduction in range whatsoever, regardless of whether we have an empty van or one packed full to the brim with pallets of yogurt.

Monitoring consumption and regeneration in real-time helps us get the most out of our vehicle. Speaking of making the most of the Kangoo Z.E., we’ve been regularly clocking trips that are well over the 100km estimated range of the van. Just last week Rachel crisscrossed the midlands, doing 120km of mixed motorway and road driving, and arrived at her destination with over 1/8 battery left, indicating a maximum range of at least 135km. To help put her mind at ease when driving, Rachel regularly uses the Eco-Mode on the Kangoo Z.E., which restricts the torque and speed to help her maximize the range. This convenient drive-mode ensures that one’s driving style (we’re looking at you, lead-foot drivers!) is super electric-friendly without a second thought.

For all the other E-car Owners and Ambassadors out there, what are some of your favourite e-car features?

Comments: 3

  1. Kevin Morahan December 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm Reply


    I am interested to know if the Kangoo has been used to tow a trailer, and if so I should be interested in a description of your experience.


    Kevin Morahan
    Co Donegal

  2. Michael February 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm Reply

    I am interested to know if this range was achieved with the kangoo with or without a load, or even a part load.

    • Glenisk February 20, 2014 at 9:40 am Reply

      Hi Michael,
      We haven’t used the Kangoo Z.E. to tow a trailer yet, but we have made numerous trips with the back of the van packed to the very top with yogurt and did not notice any significant difference in range with or without a load. Driving speed and style had the biggest impact on range in our experience, with cold temperatures in the winter being the only other factor to cause a noticeable, albeit small, difference in range.
      We’d be happy to talk more about our experience if you’d like, just give us a shout. We have found the performance of the van to be incredibly reliable and we can’t recommend the Kangoo Z.E. enough!

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