SEAT gives the green light for EV production line

Plans have been unveiled by car manufacturer SEAT to develop six new electric and plug-in hybrid models as part of the firm's electric strategy for 2021.

SEAT made a number of announcements at its AGM, including new EV models and development across its range

SEAT made a number of announcements at its AGM, including new EV models and development across its range

The first two ‘pure’ fully electric models from the carmaker will be variants on the Mii and el-Born vehicles, with its Leon and Tarraco ranges having plug-in hybrid versions. The manufacturer’s performance brand, Cupra, will also see plug-in hybrid models for the Cupra Leon and Formentor ranges.

One of the biggest announcements, which were made at the company’s AGM, was the decision to collaborate with parent organisation Volkswagen on a new vehicle platform. The programme will see a smaller version of VW’s Modular Electric Drive matrix (MEB) applied with multiple vehicles of around four metres in length from different brands being manufactured.

Open source platform

It follows the news that VW opened the MEB to other manufacturers in a bid to widen the deployment of the technology and encourage e-mobility earlier in March. As part of the project with SEAT, the platform will develop vehicles at an entry price below €20,000 (£17,100) with more than 300 engineers participating in the scheme in Spain.

Additionally, SEAT will lead the VW group’s micro-mobility strategy with its Minimó concept and eXS kickscooter as two solutions for urban environments. Research and development opportunities are now earmarked at €656m (£560m) following positive year-end results for SEAT, meaning development opportunities for electric and other vehicles can be accelerated.

Company chief executive Luca de Meo said: “SEAT now has a clearer role in the Volkswagen Group, and thanks to the results obtained, we have earned the new electric vehicle platform.”

“For the first time, the SEAT Technical Centre will be developing a platform that may be used by more brands around the globe.”

Volkswagen AG chief executive Dr. Herbert Diess said the electric platform was “a great step forwards towards an even more affordable electric mobility".

Climate change

The company said in its statement that climate change and reducing emissions are “major issues” that are going to impact the car industry in the coming years alongside connectivity and mobility services.

On the latter point, the car manufacturer is setting up a software development centre to develop innovative solutions for better mobility, dubbed Metropolis: Lab Barcelona. It said that other independent SEAT firms, such as XMOBA, can operate out of the facility, which will be staffed by 200 people and aims “to take full advantage of all synergies”.

The announcements follow SEAT hitting its key sustainability goals two years ahead of schedule, using a variety of approaches to obtain its goal of a 25% reduction by 2020, such as installing 4,000sqm of air-cleaning paving slabs at its Martorell plant in Barcelona.

After investing £5.25bn in sustainability projects in 2017, the carmaker has now set a new ambition of cutting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by half by 2025 in a bid to halve its overall environmental footprint by the same deadline.

It also follows various announcements by VW on upscaling its EV output. It committed this month (March 2019) to launch at least 70 electric vehicle (EV) models by 2028, as part of its newly unveiled ambition to become 'climate-neutral' by 2050, which itself follows a previous pledge to develop 50 vehicles.

In total, VW is now aiming for 40% of its portfolio to be electrified by 2030 and to invest €30bn in e-mobility by 2023.

James Evison



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