Motors

Range extenders: Vauxhall's Corsa-e and Mokka-e updated with longer EV range

EARLIER this month we brought you the thrilling news that the electric version of the DS 3 Crossback had received an update to extend the distance it can travel on a full charge, writes William Scholes.

The same 50kWh battery and 134bhp motor hardware lurking beneath that car's frankly wilfully divisive and migraine-inducing styling can also be found in a variety of other vehicles, including Vauxhall 's agreeable Corsa-e and Mokka-e models.

They have now benefited from the same update as the DS, which in the case of the Corsa-e helps eek out a full charge to 222 miles, up from the earlier 209 miles. The Mokka-e - essentially an SUV version of the Corsa - gets its range bumped to 209 miles from 201 miles. For comparison, the DS 3 Crossback can go a claimed 212 miles before you have to recharge it.

Those numbers are still unlikely to persuade those with a bout of range or charger anxiety to take the plunge in to EV ownership, but are nonetheless an improvement. And how the new official range figures quoted - calculated using the industry-standard method called WLTP - measure up in the real world, of a dark and damp December morning on Irish roads, remains to be seen.

The extra range has been found, says Vauxhall, through "the optimisation of the HVAC" - industry-speak for heating, ventilation and air conditioning - and "propulsion systems", a vaguely Millennium Falcon-esque description for a humble battery-and-motor drivetrain.

The Corsa-e's improved range of up to 222 miles is still unlikely to persuade those with a serious bout of range or charger anxiety to take the plunge in to EV ownership. And how it measures up in the real world, of a dark and damp December morning on Irish roads, remains to be seen

The biggest gains have been found in improving the efficiency of the cars' heat pump, which is used to warm and cool the interior and is a more efficient way of doing things in an electric car compared to the conventional systems found in a petrol or diesel-engined vehicle.

"Customers will notice the improvements particularly when driving in the winter months," says Vauxhall.

This is highly relevant; EV range tends to drop dramatically in cooler conditions. Indeed, a Peugeot e-2008 - yet another vehicle which shares the same hardware as the Vauxhall and DS models - I tested suffered a range drop from a notional maximum of around 200 miles to around 120 miles at this time of year...

Other changes include "a new transmission reducer that converts the motor revs into wheel speed" and more efficient 'low rolling resistance' tyres.

We can expect incremental improvements of these sorts to become commonplace in all EVs as manufacturers strive to improve range and efficiency. These will be a mix of hardware changes fitted to new cars on the production line, as well as software changes - often delivered 'over the air', as with an update for your smartphone - available to vehicles already on the road.

This sort of continual honing, and the relative ease with which improvements can be sent to a customer's car, are another example of how the EV owner experience is different from that of the internal combustion cars with which we are all so familiar.

Because both models cost under £35,000, they are eligible for the government's £2,500 plug-in car grant of £2,500. That means the Mokke-e costs from £31,865 and the Corsa-e from £27,805.

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