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‘Vauxhall listened to criticism and cut its electric car prices, now other brands need to follow suit’

Mike Rutheford thinks electric car prices are still far too expensive

Opinion - Vauxhall Corsa Electric

When Auto Express speaks up for the motorists it serves and, in turn, car companies listen, learn and alter their ways, positive results can and do occur.

Three months ago, there was much talk – but, yet again, very little action – surrounding the tired old promise that pure-electric car prices will drop to the same (or similar) levels as petrol-powered models of similar dimensions and quality.

Fed up and frustrated by all the ‘jam tomorrow’ mumblings I’ve heard for years, if not decades, I said (via this column) what had to be said in January: the Corsa is a fine example of a line-up that best enables comparisons between EV and ICE versions. So I mentioned the unpalatable fact that the bog-standard, least expensive but acutely over-priced electric model was £32,445 – and therefore carrying a painful 65-per cent price premium (ouch!) over the equivalent entry-level petrol-powered Corsa at £19,625.

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The do-or-die warning I issued back then regarding the huge gap between the recommended retail prices for these EV and ICE superminis went like this: “The manufacturer has little choice but to immediately cut the price of its EV versions – by thousands.” Lower APR rates wouldn’t go amiss either, I cheekily added.

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Less than three months later, Vauxhall has responded by making its entry-level Corsa EV more affordable, at £26,895. This effective price drop of £5,550 would be more than welcome on any new car. But it’s extra special on a humble, pure-electric supermini. That daft and damaging disparity of 65 per cent I highlighted earlier is now 45 per cent. And if it keeps tumbling at this rate, the gap should narrow to nearer 20 per cent soon and, eventually, zero per cent.

Credit where credit’s due to Vauxhall. The company listened to harsh but valid criticisms from me and others about its over-ambitious Corsa EV pricing policy – then slashed the price of the entry-level model by almost a fifth. Furthermore, another initiative from the firm is, as suggested, a lower interest rate over five years. So, not before time, Vauxhall is actively narrowing the price gap between EV and ICE – while offering far better (but still not quite good enough) finance deals on pure-electric Corsas.

The firm’s lower-RRP, cheaper-APR business model is designed to entice private would-be EV purchasers who’ve previously been priced out of the buying process. Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and other makers have plenty of EVs in their line-ups, but not nearly enough people able and willing to buy them. So only when these companies match or beat the British brand by offering all-electric superminis (not to be confused with urban runabouts or quadricycles mischievously masquerading as cars) at nearer £20,000 and with low or zero finance rates will punters begin to bite in big numbers.   

Can you, the manufacturers and official dealers, plus we the punters, just get on with it, please? The state-of-the-art pure-electric car isn’t yet perfect. But it’s too bloody good, important and compelling for sales to be bogged down in the way they are. This really could be its most successful ever year. But only if the price is right.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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