Seat will launch an entry-level urban electric vehicle with the “dimensions of today’s Arona” and a price of £17,000-£21,000 in 2025.
The new machine will be based on the modified ‘MEB-Lite’ platform for compact vehicles that will also underpin Volkswagen ID 1 and ID 2 models launched by that date. Notably, Seat has now again been given responsibility to lead the development of that platform for the whole Volkswagen Group.
Seat boss Wayne Griffiths first announced the plan to launch a compact EV last month, although at that date indicated that the model would carry the branding of sister firm Cupra. He has now said: “We’ve not yet announced which brand the urban electric vehicle will be”, adding that the feasibility of a Seat-badged EV “will depend on when the battery prices come down and become suitable for the mass segment”.
A Seat variant would tie in with the entry-level target price for the car, with Seat targeted at affordable motoring, while Cupra is pitched as a ‘premium performance’ brand attracting higher prices.
Griffiths said previously the compact EV would be “more than a car for us; it’s the future of the car industry in Spain”.
Seat and Cupra, he said, “will help make electric cars available to the masses with an urban, small electric car – and that’s a project we’re working on with [parent company] the Volkswagen Group”.
The new model will sit in the A0 segment, below the upcoming El-Born electric hot hatchback, but have crossover-style proportions, meaning it will be comparable in size to the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross.
“This segment is huge in Europe and is going to change to electric cars, and this is the most difficult one to do it on,” said Griffiths last month. “Doing it with cars like the Porsche Taycan at the top end of the market is a bit easier, but doing it with small cars, to make money is a challenge.”
Potential designs have been completed, and the new model will likely be officially previewed later this year, should talks with the Volkswagen Group and Spanish authorities be sufficiently advanced. “We need to be ready by 2025”, Griffiths said, “so the decisions need to be made this year.”
He voiced a commitment to the new car’s affordability, suggesting that ‘synergies’ within the Volkswagen Group and beyond would be key to keeping development costs – and thus final prices – down.
That means the Seat model will offer a maximum battery size of 45kWh and could be priced from around £17,800, if it follows the pricing strategy of its German sibling.
Group CEO Ralf Brandstätter previously said that “cars in smaller segments are important and very interesting for us” and promised details of expansion at the lower end of the electric line-up soon.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on developing individual models for different Volkswagen Group brands,” said Griffiths. “The idea is to build the car here in Spain. To make that happen, we need the help of the Spanish government and the European Commission to invest in this transformation.”
He emphasised the domestic economical implications of developing an affordable electric car in Spain, suggesting that the creation of jobs is key in a tourism-biased economy that has been particularly harshly impacted by global travel restrictions over the past year.
“Transformation of the car industry is going to be important, not only for building cars here in Martorell but for the whole chain, downstream and upstream,” Griffiths said.
Cupra is also in discussions with the Spanish government regarding the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure to avoid a sparse network forming a barrier to the adoption of its EVs.