Pope’s Kangoo Model Could Be Soccer Mom’s Answered Prayer
While the Pontiff of the Catholic faith is typically chauffeured around in a bulletproof Mercedes, his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, aka the “green pope” now has a Renault Kangoo Maxi Z.E. in his fleet. The Kangoo, which shares similar electric vehicle technology for Safety, Environment-CO2, Life-on-Board and Dynamic Performance to its cousin, the Nissan Leaf, is powered by a 60-hp electric motor and lithium-ion battery, and can travel 106 miles without recharging.
That sort of charging capability could be something that resonates with soccer moms who have had range anxiety - something that could turn out to be a great marketing move by Renault.
Under Pope Benedict's watch, the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on its main auditorium and joined a reforestation project to offset its carbon dioxide emissions. Now you can add zero-emission vehicle to Pope Benedict XVI’s green initiative. The $27,000 price tag for the Kangoo Maxi Z.E., $3,000 more than the shorter Kangoo ZE, is still high but doesn’t break the bank. Oh yeah, its roomy too!
One thing that really caught my attention about the Pope’s new ride is the monthly battery lease fee of ~$100. Could leasing batteries become more of the norm for the auto industry? It makes sense, since there could be secondary applications for used electric vehicle batteries (see image below from Nissan). Also, leasing batteries, the most expensive part of the vehicle, could bring down the cost of the cars significantly.
Although recycling of lithium still needs to be advanced, Nissan is presently using second-hand lithium batteries in wind/solar energy storage and photovoltaic solar for industrial and home applications. India’s electric car OEM Reva and Zem Energy have also been working on potential reusability of second hand lithium batteries. So while every detail related to recycling EV batteries still has to be worked out, I am at least encouraged by efforts presently being made in the space.
Keep in mind that Renault doesn’t sell its vehicles in the US; however, the company has a unique cross-sharing agreement alliance with Nissan that was created back in 1999 (see image below from Renault). So we could see Nissan finally moving forward with leasing electric batteries here in the US and looking to bring a version of the Kangoo Maxi Z.E. stateside under its own badge soon enough. Hey, if it’s good enough for the Pope…