Vauxhall Corsa-e road test by Steve Rogers

Who is ready to take the plunge and drive electric?

You would be joining a growing band – sales have almost doubled every year since 2018 and could reach 70,000 this year. But for the pandemic crippling car sales that figure would have been even higher.

The surge in sales, particularly this year, is being driven by greater choice with just about every car company offering one or more electric models, the majority based on existing names but watch out for a flurry of bespoke electric cars. Volkswagen has just launched the ID 3 with a maximum range of 263 miles and a starting price just under £30k.

Interestingly the best selling electric car is the Tesla Model 3 which costs a lofty £56k but that is likely to change as the big players ramp up their electric portfolio.

So apart from doing your bit to reduce carbon emissions why switch to electric? The simple answer is cheaper motoring. An independent survey by Lease Plan showed that an electric car would cost £132 less per month than a similarly priced petrol and that survey examined every conceivable cost of ownership.

I’ve just spent a week with the new electric powered Vauxhall Corsa, a car I predict will do well on the ‘e’ circuit. The starting price of £27,665 is competitive but you can see why some buyers will shy away when a basic Corsa is just over £16,000.

We have to you have to look at the bigger picture and the fact that politicians want a huge shift in favour of electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

The Corsa-e price comparison is not a true reflection because there are only two to choose from and the equipment level on the entry model is heaps ahead of the 16 grand Corsa, plus it costs more to build an electric car.

For the Corsa-e Vauxhall increased the wheelbase to accommodate the 50kW battery pick positioned under the front and back seats but there is no compromise on space

either for passengers or luggage.

Likewise there is very little difference in driving characteristics unless you pass through a series of B road curves when the car wallows a little with the extra weight of the battery pack but nothing to trouble the majority of drivers.

The biggest surprise, and a very nice one, is the performance which is phenomenal. Unlike a conventional motor the electric car gives max power the instant the accelerator is pressed and the Corsa-e will knock off 60mph in 7.6 seconds the sort of figure you get from a GTI but without the boy racer noise. Top speed is a more than adequate 93mph.

What was it like to live with? Pretty normal because the majority of my trips were short so there was never any stress of running out of charge, Remember, if you do it is a recovery job because there is no popping to the nearest garage for can of petrol!

Charging is best done via a wall box at your home which Vauxhall will charge £300 to fit. A full charge takes seven and a half hours but as you are always likely to have miles left in the ‘tank’  three to four hours will do the job.

Surveys show the average journey is no more than 30 miles so there is no reason to get worked up about switching to an electric car…. until you want to take a long trip.

That is when planning comes into play and for some this is going to be a real faff. My experience with Corsa-e showed that if I wanted to drive 300 miles a top up point would need to be found no more than 150 miles into the journey. Finding a point for a 30 minute 85 per cent charge is not a problem using a mobile phone app, it is whether it’s conveniently situated on the route.

The route throws up all sorts of variables for battery range, a hilly route will use up more charge, driving at 70mph on the motorway will quickly reduce the range, so best to stick just below 65mph and use the regenerative braking setting which gives the longest range by harvesting energy when braking and decelerating to put miles back into the battery and it is surprising how effective this is at increasing the range.

My top of the range Elite Nav proved a friendly partner and wants for nothing, heated seats, heated steering wheel, LED automatic dipping headlights, some of the luxury bits while navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connection via a 7inch touchscreen and numerous safety features contribute to a long spec list.

Am I ready to go electric? No, but I am struggling to come up with a good enough reason why. My main issue is concern about long trips because the current charging structure does not satisfy demand.

Ted Gunning, the boss of LeasePlan, hit the nail on the head saying ‘policy makers need to step up’ when it comes to providing enough EV charging stations.

Sort that out and we will be fine.

 

Need to know

Corsa-e Elite Nav

£31,160

Electric motor 134bhp

Range 209 miles

0-60mph 7.6secs; 93mph

Battery warranty: 8 years/100,000 miles

Car tax: Zero

Insurance group 25

Boot: 309-1118 litres