Opel sees electric Corsa as key EV entry

Opel has revealed photos of the sixth-generation Corsa small hatchback, which will be available in battery-electric, gasoline or diesel variants. Orders will open in several weeks, Opel said, starting with electric versions, then for gasoline and diesel versions.

The Corsa, Opel’s best-selling model, is the third car launched this year on PSA Group’s CMP architecture, which was developed with PSA’s Chinese joint venture partner Dongfeng. Designed from the start to accept internal combustion as well as electric power, the CMP debuted earlier this year with the DS 3 Crossback SUV, followed by the Peugeot 208.

The new Corsa was originally scheduled to be built on a GM platform, but PSA quickly changed course soon after buying Opel/Vauxhall in 2017 and developed the Corsa on the CMP architecture to take advantage of group synergies and, as well, to gain an emissions benefit. It will also be badged as a Vauxhall.

Deliveries of gasoline and electric versions will start toward the end of this year, with the first electric versions appearing in spring 2020, Opel executives said. The automaker did not disclose prices for the car.

All versions of the Corsa will be built at PSA Group’s factory in Zaragoza, Spain.

The Corsa-e, as the electric version will be known, has a range of 330 km (205 miles) under Europe’s new Worldwide Light harmonized vehicle Test Procedure, or WLTP. A 100-kilowatt electric motor produces power equivalent to 136 hp and will enable the Corsa to reach 50 kph (32 mph) in 2.8 seconds, and 100 kph in 8.1 seconds. Its 50-kWh battery can be charged to 80 percent of its capacity in 50 minutes. Drivers can choose from three modes — normal, eco and sport — which will affect performance, but also battery range, Opel said.

The Corsa-e is distinguished from the internal combustion variants only by subtle badging and modified, more aerodynamic wheels. PSA uses a similar design differentiation of the electric and internal combustion engine versions of the Peugeot 208.

Under GM ownership, Opel had sold versions of the Chevrolet Bolt full-electric car in Europe as the Ampera-E, but sales were small.

Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller said he expected having an electric version of Opel’s most popular car would bring higher sales. The pure electric Corsa will be an “important entry” to the electric vehicle market, he told Automotive News Europe. “This is the biggest segment of the market.”

Better handling and dynamics

The Corsa’s length is nearly unchanged, at 4060mm, but it is 48mm lower, and the driver sits 28mm lower than the current version, 

Opel said, adding that “handling and dynamics benefit from the lower center of gravity.”

The Corsa will be available only in five-door versions.

The Corsa will be competing in the mainstream small car segment in Europe, which has been losing ground to SUVs and crossovers — 1.2 percent in 2018, according to JATO Dynamics — although it still remains the largest in Europe. Corsa’s European sales fell by 6.8 percent in 2018, according to JATO, leaving it in sixth place behind the Renault Clio, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and the Toyota Yaris. It will face competition from an all-new Clio, as well as the Peugeot 208, although PSA Group has said that Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot appeal to different groups of buyers.

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