Major car makers across the globe are prancing towards an electric future. Most VW Group subsidiaries have taken the leap toward electric cars. However, one brand under the VW Group has refrained from electric cars so far, and that’s Spanish carmaker Seat. The brand is yet to announce an all-electric offering. What’s holding the company back? We explain in this article.
High component costs
Electric cars are expensive to develop and manufacture, and the brand would reportedly consider EVs when component prices take a plunge, reported Auto Express on June 8, 2022.
Seat and Cupra’s research and development boss Dr. Werner Tietz said when the ‘e-machines’ become cheaper, Seat will think about EVs, referring to the expensive EV components, reported the British publication. It’s no longer a novelty that electric vehicles require a significant investment. However, trends showcase that the prices are slowly falling. Mass-market EVs may cost as much as their gas-powered counterparts in a few years.
Cupra more attractive to new buyers
That said, most new buyers are attracted by sister brand Cupra’s more expressive models, and that’s where the focus is currently.
Cupra is going all guns blazing with its electrification journey. At the Cupra Impulse event on June 7, 2022, the brand showcased its three upcoming electrified vehicles: 2025 Cupra Urban Rebel hatchback (BEV), Terramar full-size SUV (Hybrid), and the 2024 Tavascan SUV-coupe (BEV). The Cupra Born, the ID.3’s cousin, entered production at VW Group’s mother plant in Zwickau, Germany, last year. The Tavascan is the most athletic SUV-coupe in the VW Group and rivals the Skoda Enyaq Coupe iV and the VW ID.5.
Cupra grows as a brand
Seat has launched only three internal combustion-engined models since 2020: the Ateca and Arona facelifts and the new Leon. Going forward, Cupra and Seat will become increasingly distinct in their identities. The vehicles will be different, and so will the target audience. Cupra models are sporty, aggressive, and performance-focused.
Until now, Cupra functioned as a performance-focused sub-brand, but now its rising popularity is helping Cupra shape its own identity. It started with the Formentor SUV, which was developed specifically for Cupra. Now an entire range of electrified Cupras, as aforementioned, is in the pipeline.
However, in now way has electrification been ruled out for the brand. CEO Wayne Griffiths has promised an electrified future for Seat and Cupra. Although a few years are likely to pass before the former rolls out an EV. How Seat would manage its brand image in the era of electrification remains to be seen.
While details are awaited, the first Seat electric car is expected to cost around €20,000 ($20,183). Compared to the Arona, it should offer better cabin space with smaller dimensions, thanks to the expanded interior length, flat floor, and fewer components. Considering its price and target audience, expect a battery capacity of around 40 kWh with a range of around 300 km (WLTP) between charges.
When it eventually emerges on the market, the Seat electric car will ride on not the original MEB platform but a pared-down version in development with the working title ‘MEB-Lite.’ The re-engineered platform will be economical for VW Group EVs to be launched in the A- and B-segments starting in 2025. The Seat electric car is expected to join the lineup subsequently.
The Volkswagen Group-owned Spanish automaker has set a goal of producing more than 500,000 urban electric cars annually for the various group brands in Martorell and Pamplona and put Spain on “electric wheels.” To price its small EV models affordably, Volkswagen Group plans to localize to the highest possible level. The company is establishing a 200-acre battery cell gigafactory in Spain, which will begin operations in 2026. It expects to ramp up the plant’s annual capacity to 40 gigawatt hours by the end of the decade and plans to source electric car components also locally.
VW Group is converting Spain into a strategic pillar and hub for its small EV models. The company will likely produce all cars in the “Small BEV Family” in the country, with derivative models wearing the Skoda and Volkswagen badges, making climate-neutral e-mobility available to more buyers in Europe. VW Group says that it aims to convert the Seat production plant in Martorell into an EV-only factory. The company announced that the Volkswagen Group and Seat are willing to cooperate with the government of Spain to build the nation into a leading e-mobility hub and that it would apply to participate in the Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE).
Featured image: TopElectricSUV imagines a future Seat electric car for the segment occupied by the Arona.