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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Aja8888 Aja8888 on Mar 23, 2021

    VW wants tax breaks from the gov and also buy in from unions in Spain. Right now, Spain has about 20% unemployment. Always high there since tourism is big (until now).

  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Mar 24, 2021

    Makes sense as SEAT has been using VW platforms for small cars for years - Ibiza, Leon etc. Their SUVs are currently built by Skoda, so they may wish to have more input in their products than re-grilling a Kodiak.

  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.
  • ToolGuy Lose a couple of cylinders, put the rest in a straight line and add a couple of turbos. Trust me.
  • ToolGuy Got no money for the Tasman, it is going to the Taxman. 🙁
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