Seat developing EV light cars for Volkswagen - report

Volkswagen is tapping its Spanish subsidiary Seat to develop and build an array of more affordable, all-electric light SUVs.

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William Stopford
Journalist

Seat is back behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Group’s electric light car program, with the first models set for a 2025 launch.

Autocar reports the German giant has handed the reins back to its Spanish subsidiary, which will first develop electric light SUVs the size of a Volkswagen T-Cross.

The MEB-Lite platform, as it’s being referred to, will underpin models for the Cupra, Skoda, Volkswagen and possibly even Audi brands.

The platform is a modified version of Volkswagen’s new MEB all-electric architecture, which is rapidly proliferating throughout the company’s mainstream brands plus Audi.

Previous reports have indicated MEB-Lite vehicles will feature batteries up to 45kWh in capacity, which is currently the smallest capacity battery available in MEB-based vehicles.

The Volkswagen Group wants to produce affordable electric cars and is aiming for an entry price of €20,000 (A$31,070).

Currently, the cheapest MEB-based vehicle is the Volkswagen ID.3, which starts at €31,495 (A$48,923).

Volkswagen and Seat have already confirmed their first MEB-Lite-based models will be light SUVs close in size to the Volkswagen T-Cross and its Seat Arona cousin.

The Volkswagen SUV could wear the ID.2 nameplate.

The Volkswagen Group is pushing for greater EV adoption in Spain and for support from the Spanish government and European Commission in setting up both MEB-Lite production and a battery gigafactory, one of six planned for the continent.

“We intend to establish Spain as an electric vehicle hub in Europe,” said Seat boss Wayne Griffiths.

“We plan to manufacture electric cars in Spain starting from 2025, producing more than 500,000 a year in Martorell for various VW Group brands, but we need a clear commitment from the Spanish government and European Commission to support us.

“The exact volume will depend on how many brands launch [entry-level vehicles] in the initial phase. Volkswagen, Skoda and possibly in the future Audi will be involved in the project, and there would be a second phase after that going towards 2030.”

The brand currently only sells the moribund Mii electric city car, with the upcoming MEB-based Born (nèe el-Born) moving to the Cupra sub-brand.

Seat had previously been in charge of the project and was to co-develop the small EVs with Chinese joint-venture partner JAC until the Group reassigned the project to the Volkswagen brand.

Before the project was shuffled to Volkswagen, reports indicated Seat would also work on small electric hatchbacks for the Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen brands to replace the outgoing Volkswagen e-Up and its badge-engineered counterparts.

The initial removal of the project from Seat was another setback for the Spanish brand, which had also seen its plans to enter the Chinese market delayed.

Volkswagen’s Spanish operations have since been earmarked for an expansion, with sub-brand Cupra coming to Australia in 2022 as it expands throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

We’re still some way away from seeing any of the Volkswagen Group’s mainstream electric vehicles in Australia.

The Volkswagen brand plans to introduce its ID.4 mid-sized SUV here before the small ID.3 hatchback, even though the latter is already on sale in Europe.

The ID.4 will touch down locally in either 2022 or 2023.


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