SEAT confirms launch of 311-mile EV in 2020

Spanish brand to go all-electric early next decade with new model using Volkswagen’s MEB platform

SEAT has confirmed it will release a fully-electric car in 2020, with an all-electric range of up to 311 miles and sitting on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform.

Confirmed by SEAT CEO Luca De Meo at the Spanish brand’s annual conference, 2020 will be “SEAT’s year of electrification”, said the firm’s boss, and a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Leon has been confirmed too, releasing in the same year.

Lodged trademark applications suggest the bespoke electric car could be called the SEAT Born, Born-E or E-Born – three names based on El Born, one of the trendiest areas of Barcelona and an ideal environment for an electric vehicle.

SEAT hasn’t officially disclosed the bodystyle but the vehicle’s design has been teased, and Auto Express understands that it’s likely to be a hatchback with a slightly raised floor and roofline to accommodate the batteries. New, advanced infotainment and connectivity features are promise, as are level 2 autonomous driving assists. Our exclusive images show how the manufacturer’s first EV could look.

SEAT’s vice-president for research and development, Dr Matthias Rabe, told Auto Express last year where the now confirmed vehicle will sit in the company’s line-up.

“The first MEB car will be smaller than our big SUV that’s coming soon,” he said. “It will be more the size of the Leon – very close, in fact, in length. But the interior space will be much greater because of the packaging advantages of MEB.”

This characteristic follows the same pattern as VW’s forthcoming I.D., the first car to use the MEB platform, which will be almost the same length as the next generation of Golf, but use a much-extended wheelbase to offer cabin space similar to that of the larger Passat.

Rabe added: “I think in price terms our car will be around the same as an Ateca.” This could place the model in a similar bracket to the I.D., which VW has said will cost the same as a well-specced diesel Golf – around £25,000.

He also confirmed that SEAT plans to offer its MEB hatchback with two power outputs, but suggested that additional performance could be offered because the platform will give SEAT the chance to introduce over-the-air subscriptions for services and updates.

The research boss said: “We haven’t decided exactly what services we will offer, but I think they will be software-based rather than hardware.

“If, for example, we already installed heated seats on 90 per cent of our cars as an option, then we could add in the extra 10 per cent and offer buyers the chance to subscribe to having heated seats in the winter. However, if you only have those seats on 10 per cent of your cars, there’s no business case.

“Either way, I think we’ll end up offering over-the-air items in weekly, monthly or permanent upgrades. And additional performance is one option.”

Rabe described the car as “95 per cent finished” with the fixed points – wheelbase, width and chassis length – now decided. “It’s a really good-looking car, because it looks distinctive and yet it’s clearly a SEAT,” he added.

Would you buy an all-electric SEAT? Let us know in the comments section below…

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