Expected to be the first of many, French carmaker Renault has become the latest company to take an order for one of their upcoming electric vehicles, the Kangoo Van Z.E.

The only commercial vehicle in Renault's upcoming range of electric vehicles that includes the Fluence sedan, the Zoe subcompact and the Twizy micro car, the Kangoo Z.E. will compete in the same market as the Ford Connect Electric, a first drive of which you can read here. The sector is hotly contested in Europe and many European manufacturers offer light commercial vehicles in their model ranges. Usually powered by turbocharged diesel engines, the Kangoo and Connect join the less well known Citroën Berlingo Electrique in offering electric variants for small businesses.

Renault's Kangoo starts at £16,990 or an impressive sounding $27,600, undercutting the vast majority of electric cars. The price doesn't include the U.K. Value Added Tax (VAT) purchase tax, because companies can claim back the cost of VAT for business expenses.

This makes the Kangoo Van Z.E. with its 1,400 lb payload, fractionally less expensive than the most expensive diesel model in the range - but in a market used to paying significantly more for electric vehicles, that's quite an achievement. The low cost is a result of Renault being one of few companies to lease batteries to its customers, at $96 per month based on 9,000 miles a year over 4 years.

The first sale of six vehicles has gone to European firm JCDecaux, an advertising company that specializes in billboard, street furniture, retail and airport advertising and reaches more than 293 million consumers in 3,400 cities worldwide.

Mark Cooper from JCDecaux is impressed with the Kangoo: "The transfer of our fleet from fossil fuels to electric is a major step forward... Those [staff] fortunate to have sampled the Kangoo Van Z.E. have rated its performance and lack of noise very highly. They were also struck by how easy-to-drive and comfortable it is."

They'll have to wait a little while for delivery though - the first Kangoo Z.Es will be launched in October 2011.