Can an electric van ever save a business money? Most will probably say 'yes', but at the cost of practicality and flexibility.

However, the electric Renault Kangoo ZE, the UK's first mass-produced electric van, is hoping to prove otherwise and here at Askaprice, we got behind the wheel of the Kangoo ZE to test out the newest commercial hero for UK fleets.

Introducing the Renault Kangoo ZE

The first thing that you need to know about the Renault Kangoo ZE is that is runs purely on electric power. This means it does not require petrol or diesel to run, instead it is charged from a charging socket much like any other electrical appliance.

In terms of running costs this has immediate benefits. Fuel prices are set to increase as duty rises and motorists are being increasingly hard-hit by the cost of running a conventional car.

Gas-guzzling vans are even more susceptible to fuel prices, while the Kangoo ZE can be charged overnight to take advantage of lower electric tariffs.

Charging takes longer than a diesel refuel - anything up to eight hours depending on the charger - and this gives the Kangoo van a 106-mile range.

Meanwhile, those worried about van insurance can contact the likes of MoneySupermarket.com, where specialist electric van insurance and electric van breakdown cover can help to cut costs.

On the road

So the Kangoo is cheap to run in theory, with the obvious caveat that it is a van built for the city. For example, if a business does short deliveries around an urban area, the van really comes into its own.

It offers 59bhp from its electric motor and 226Nm of torque to provide surprising amounts of power. This gives the spacious van enough grunt to cope with carrying loads and for getting up to speed on faster roads.

On the road the Kangoo ZE is nothing short of brilliant. Silent and composed because of that electric drivetrain, the Kangoo ZE offers instant acceleration, a smooth ride and it doesn't rattle and splutter like a standard van.

The zero tailpipe emissions will also be attractive, offering exemption from the £100 per day London Low Emissions Zone charge and easily meeting increasingly strict EU emissions criteria.

Low electric costs compared to diesel also help, although the car will have to be charged more often.

How practical?

Surely an electric van cannot be practical? Renault has addressed this by using the traditional Kangoo van design for the electric version.

Offered in standard and Maxi versions and with the seat folded in the latter there is 2,600 litres of boot space available and a boxy rear end for odd-shaped loads.

Prices for the Renault Kangoo ZE van start from £22,000 and it is available to lease as well, but sadly the van does not qualify for the car-based £5,000 government grant.