Vauxhall boss Steve Norman believes its zero-emissions Corsa-e can become the UK’s best-selling EV in 2021, following a slow start due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the Autocar Business Live online seminar, Norman said that although Vauxhall’s ambitious Corsa-e goals for this year had been stinted by coronavirus, there’s “no reason why we can’t build that back up in 2021”.

The Corsa-e, alongside the electric Vivaro van, kick-starts Vauxhall’s electrification plans, offering 134bhp and a 211-mile range. Priced from £27,665, it sits alongside diesel and petrol variants of the Corsa, all of which sit on the PSA Group’s CMP platform, also used by the Peugeot 208 and e-208 among others.

Norman said that, so far, the biggest demand for electric vehicles at Vauxhall was in the van sector. “The strongest, unstimulated demand for EVs that Vauxhall has today is for the electric Vivaro van, where we have several thousand customer orders for delivery in the coming weeks and months.

“There is a significant appetite for what is a unique Vauxhall product, the Vivaro electric, which has a 200-mile range and unaltered carrying capacity – in weight, towing capacity and square metres – versus the diesel variant. The demand, not just for the last mile but for genuine transportation of objects, is going to surprise everybody.”

Talking about electric cars, Norman said there was interest around smaller vehicles such as the Corsa-e “aroused by what we are hearing from authorities and a genuine desire from consumers to be green”. However, he warned of confusing messages on hybrid vehicles, which are affecting uptake.

Norman said: “Certainly, the conflicting messages on hybrid taxation and fiscal measures means it’s very difficult to see what the residual value of these vehicles will be and that obviously disturbs demand.

“We haven’t helped ourselves by allowing people to say ‘well, he bought a hybrid for the tax relief and he only ever runs it on petrol’. If we allow those messages to go around the pubs and clubs uncorrected, then we are making a rod for our own back.”

Norman also called for a more competent motor industry lobby to tackle the issue of messaging around hybrids.

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