Vauxhall may be planning to launch a smaller, cheaper electric vehicle than its current entry-level offering, the Corsa Electric (pictured) – and a target price of £22,000 is proposed for the newcomer.
Al;though profit margins on small cars are tighter, with traditional petrol-powered city cars needing zero-emission alternatives and few options available for buyers at the present moment, a gap in the market has opened up for small, affordable EVs — and Vauxhall intends to exploit it.
It would be a most useful addition to the manufacturer’s line-up, too, as the Corsa Electric supermini is currently the brand’s cheapest EV, but starts from a not-inconsiderable £31,945.
Battery tech key to keeping costs down
According to Autocar, Florian Huettl, the CEO of Vauxhall’s German parent brand Opel said an electric city car was “possible”, adding that “there is space in the [new] range for a smaller model [than the Corsa]”.
However, the key to making the new small EV work, and to be available at the £22,000 price Vauxhall aims to achieve, will come down to battery tech. Newer, more energy-dense technologies, such as solid-state batteries — the mass production of which Toyota recently claimed that it has now cracked — will allow for greater one-shot driving range from a smaller power pack.
It would also mean production costs could be lower, while the packaging of the smaller battery would allow for the physical body of the Vauxhall to be compact enough to qualify as a decent city car.
Previous Vauxhall entrants in this class have included the Agila, the Viva — sold as the Opel Karl in overseas markets — and the Adam. But profitability on the smallest cars have narrowed in recent years, with manufacturers abandoning the sector in favour of more profitable SUVs.
None of Vauxhall’s smallest models have been sold since 2019, leaving the Corsa as the entry-level car in the interim.
City cars revived as EVs?
Yet it would seem that if EV battery tech can be made cheaply enough, the city car could make a strong comeback as a zero emissions vehicle. And other brands seem to have spotted the opportunity; if Vauxhall does make an affordable EV, it would face competition from the likes of the impending Renault 5 and Kia EV2 models.
Huettl said of the cheaper battery packs: “That is the goal. Our target for the next generation is €25,000 [for an EV].” He added that more affordable electric cars are seen as a “big pull” in the automotive industry, especially with customers. However Huettl would not confirm if the car was already in development.
Vauxhall could choose to build a city EV around a number of design structures used for existing electric cars (known as “platforms”) in the Stellantis family, which also includes Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat. The STLA Small platform, as its name suggests, is devised for the more affordable end of the motoring scale, with its intention to be used by cars no bigger than a Vauxhall Astra. It can accommodate batteries ranging from 37kWh in capacity up to 82kWh.
The new Corsa Electric Long Range features a 51kWh pack that is good for 246 miles before recharging). It’s also worth noting that the Fiat 500e electric city car has a 42kWh battery and a range of 199 miles, though it costs from £28,195.
Citroën might have the right architecture
However, it’s more likely Vauxhall would turn to Citroën. The recently revealed Citroën e-C3 supermini sits on the Smart Car platform. With the French outfit already confirming that the e-C3 will cost from £20,100 in the UK, CEO Thierry Koskas hinted that the EV architecture could be used by other brands in Stellantis.
“The Smart Car platform is supposed to go in the future in other vehicles from Citroën, maybe from other brands,” he said.
“This is a platform that will receive different vehicles, because it’s a very promising platform where we can do a lot of things — and not only, by the way, B-segment hatch cars.”
Neither Vauxhall nor Opel has yet confirmed whether it will be making its own version of the Citroen e-C3. And while the intending £22,000 EV news is most welcome, in other markets of the world Opel already sells the Citroen Ami electric quadricycle in its own variant called the Rocks-E.
- If you were interested in the new entry-level Vauxhall EV, you might also like to check out what we had to say about its big sister, the 2023 Vauxhall Astra Electric
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