Solar-Electric Van The Solely Solar Kangoo

In keeping with the Boswell Technology philosophy of being innovative and then testing the innovation, a second hand Renault Kangoo has been purchased to be used as a test bed for a fully solar vehicle. It is a 2019 model with about 85,000km on the clock. The specifications are:

Battery: Nickel, Manganese Cobalt 33kWh
Empty weight 1585kg
Overall length: 4,666 mm
Overall width with/without door mirrors: 1,829/2,138 mm
Unladen height: 1,810/1,836 mm
Motor power 44kW, torque 225Nm
Energy consumption: (NEDC test cycle): 159 Wh/km

Now for the most important information, to wit: what level of range angst comes with the van. Ummmm, a fair bit actually. Charging the Kangoo is AC only (Mennekes shown on the right) up to 7kW and there is no DC fast charge.
Most charging stations now have a CCS type 2 (Combined Charging System shown on the left) which is a Mennekes 7 port plug with 2 big DC terminals underneath.
Hah! you may think, I can use my Mennekes in the CCS2 plug, but, sadly, you have been deceived. The numerous CCS charging stations around the country accept but will not power up for just the Mennekes plug, it must be a CCS plug. You can see on the left above that there are only 3 of the Type 2 and the charging plugs are missing. Why?….. so that you do not spend all day hogging the charging station getting your ergs into the van at only 7kW and taking 4 hours to top up the battery.
Time is money!
Those bloated plutocrats possessing a car sporting a modern CCS plug can get a full DC charge in under an hour whilst maintaining the possibility of slow charging at home on the Mennekes. The downside of the fast charging is that it accelerates the aging of the battery, by quite a lot apparently.

Which brings us to the range of the van. What are we to believe? The Electric Vehicle Data Base ( has this to say:
Useable Battery 31kWh
Real Range 115 to 245km
EVDC (USA) 160km
NEDC New European Driving Cycle 270km
Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) 285km.
So, as it can easily be seen, there is real optimism in Europe while the Americans take a darker, more realistic view.

What does Renault say about this in the Kangoo handbook: Kangoo ZE range vs speed calculator with 33Ah battery @ 20C
kph range km eco mode kWh/km
30 236 252 14.5/14
50 212 228 15.6/14.5
80 172 186 19.2/17.7
90 159 20.8
110 128 25.8

Results of our tests on the 2019 Kangoo with 85,000km on the clock.

1) Charged overnight and drive around with speeds max of 60kph. End of day about half full with 108km travelled and range at 115km giving a total range of 225km and 13.7kW/100km. If there are 33kWh in the battery then we should have a total range of about 240km. If the total range is measured to be 225km then this implies that the batteries are at 93%!!!

2) Drove car at about 50kph except the Parkway at 70kph. Used coast (car in neutral) as often as possible. !3.6kW/100km, battery symbol lights and needle into red at 195km travelled with 30km range, symbol flashing and beep (at 12% left according to Kangoo handbook). At second red section at 210km driven and range 15km (at 6% and decreasing performance until stop and tow according to Kangoo handbook).
If 33kWh then 13.6kW/100km yields a range of 243km. If range is 225km (as above) then about 31kWh in battery ie. 90 to 93% effective battery. This is pretty good and shows that slow charging every night (as was done by the previous owner) really prolongs the life of the batteries.

3) Drove normally not trying to save energy 15.5kW/100km, 168km travelled claimed 26kW used. range 23km, total ~ 191km => 29.6kWh used from battery
New battery 33kWh hence battery is ~ 90%. Charged Kangoo using 10A wall socket (1.8kW measured) and in line wattmeter measured 30.5kWh suggesting charging efficiency 85%.

4) Test with steep hills. Fully charged overnight, drove to Picadilly Circus ~ 49km, up 1050m down 400m, temp 12 C. Strategy, 60kph on roads, 50kph up and 30kph near the top, then 30kph down and 50kph down, 70kph on freeway (10km).
At end range 99km. Hence total range 199km. Strange that the mountain does not seem to have increased the consumption. Can only assume that the regenerative braking is very good.
Ascending consumption 21.7kWh/100km at top, 48.8km travelled, average speed 43.5kph, total energy consumed 10kWh, energy saved 1kWh.
Descending consumption 14.5kWh/100km back home, 99.2km travelled, average speed 40.3, total energy consumed 14kWh, energy saved 4kWh.
Strategy, 60kph on roads, 50 up and 30op then 30 down and 50 down, 70 on freeway (10km).

2 July
Shopping and drive, keep at 50kph when possible. 14.1kWh/100km 142km travelled range 67km so total range 209km.

15 July
Test of regeneration using Black Mountain. Distance 2.7km x 2 (up and down) and 233m altitude difference. At bottom range ~193km and 14.2kWh/100km. Kept the power gauge out of the red and speed about 30kph. Top and 15.8kwh/100km, descent got up to 30kW regeneration and 14.2kWh/100km at bottom, range ~199km. So this verifies the Picadilly Circus run up the Brindabellas.

16 July
Testing 24V DC to 240V AC 50Hz inverters into Kangoo.
Hooked up in series 2 DC Mont 12V 135Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (about 10kg each) to produce 24V (actually 27V when charged). Both the 3kW or 4kW inverter worked into an incandescent 240V globe. But using the charging cables connected to the inverter and the Kangoo showed error and we thought it may be a ground problem. Measured volts on the inverters and measured 120V on neutral and 120V on active. Manual says negative earth so connected earth and neutral with 20A ammeter and no current to ground and 0V on neutral and 240V on active. Now it works with the charge cable, no flashing red “fault” light and Kangoo says it is charging. Also discovered that the 15A Renault charging cable (wall charger) can be changed from 6A, 8A, 10A to 15A and the 15A showed ~3.5kW charge, hooray.
Being a sceptic I still could not bring myself to believe that you can go up a mountain and cone back for the same energy cost as running on the flat. So drove up Black Mountain again and same result, 14.2kWH/100km start and 14.2kWh/100km finish. Range 198km.

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