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SEAT Positioned to Head Development on VW Group’s Littlest EVs

Despite Volkswagen having snatched away MEB development duties planned for SEAT, it’s apparently happy to give the Spanish brand an opportunity to head projects for the MEB-Lite platform for the majority of VW Group. The resulting vehicles should all be compact battery electric or hybrid cars, and potentially very low in fat, sugar, or carbs based on the agreed-upon naming conventions.

Better still, Volkswagen has claimed these vehicles should begin arriving by 2025 yielding MSRPs below €20,000 — which is roughly $24,000 USD. We’re not willing to rule anything out for our market, especially given the segment is relatively new. But North America isn’t prone to receiving exceptionally small European imports, so don’t hold you’re breath if you happen to be living within the region and eager to buy an EV smaller than the I.D.4.

Having spoken to SEAT boss and Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths, Autocar has received confirmation that the blueprints of the plan estimate VW selling roughly 500,000 vehicles using the MEB-Lite architecture per year. Most models would be assembled at the automaker’s Martorell Production Facility near Barcelona, undoubtedly sharing the brunt of their components to make the work easier/cheaper. However, Griffiths said the final plan would be dependent upon financial and social backing from the government.

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

While regulatory actions in the United States could see the wind blowing either way, trying to tackle the small EV market seems exceptionally wise for anybody selling in Europe. The market’s regulations are progressing to a point where electrification is basically the only way around getting slapped with stiff financial penalties from the government. Meanwhile, manufacturers are starting to reexamine how EVs might help to reshape the business by strengthening the role they play throughout the life of vehicles using data management and connected services.

But they aren’t going to be doing the industry much good if they’re too expensive for the average person to buy, hence the constant involvement of the government and desire to shift toward small, cheaper models. Griffiths also said it would be ideal to have Spain receive one of the six “gigafactories” Volkswagen plans on building.

“Only when this first step is committed will we be ready as a country to focus on localised [sic] production of the EV chain, starting with battery production. If Spain wants to become an EV hub, it needs at least one gigafactory,” he said.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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