By on March 22, 2021

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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17 Comments on “SEAT Positioned to Head Development on VW Group’s Littlest EVs...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Smart moves by VAG.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I suspect the cost of labor is probably much lower in Spain than it is in Germany.

  • avatar

    Is Spain a European Mexico? I mean the source of cheap labor? But taking into account siesta, I don’t know how “cheap’ it will be for VW.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Siesta is just a short break or nap after the midday meal. They make it up by working later than we do, past 5 PM, and scheduling has evolved to accommodate it in multiple shifts.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “They make it up by working later than we do, past 5 PM”

        I work past 5 without a siesta, what do I win?

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          If you’re self-employed or on salary, you win nothing. If you’re hourly, you’ll get time and a half if you work over 8 hours.

          I was once stranded in Guadelajara during an Aeromexico Airline strike. I dealt with a Mexican travel agent who was unavailable from noon to 2 PM, but finally called me at my hotel with arrangements to travel to San Diego by bus. He called me at just after 7:30 PM – he worked aftrnoons into evening routinely.

          BTW on the bus trip, we stopped for fuel after a few hours, and the driver got out and opened what I thought was a baggage compartment. Out came a guy who was sleeping in there!

          The driver took off his oversized jacket and handed it to the guy, and climbed into the compartment to take a nap himself. The guy now wearing the driver’s jacket was our new driver.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      One thing I came to understand during the pandemic was the cultural context of a siesta. I have a 23 minute timer set on my phone now- that’s the perfect amount of time for me.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      VW bought SEAT in the 80s and they have heavily used VW platforms but slightly sporty looking. At one point they wanted them to be their Alfa Romeo.

      The Spanish culture is to take a break during the day, especially when the sun is at it’s highest, but folks work on til the evening, indeed families will take a stroll and eat dinner at 10pm.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “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.”

    Well, given the economic situation what is the price point for the “average” person? I’m thinking $12-15K if you really wanted these things to move.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    If I can’t have a small VW EV in the US, can I at least have my ID4 in that yellow?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “ but we need a clear commitment from the Spanish government and European Commission to support us.”

    Translation from corporate-speak:
    In exchange for a vague promise to create some “high paying” jobs, the government has to sign the collateral if the business goes south.

    Corporate welfare?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “ but we need a clear commitment from the Spanish government and European Commission to support us.”

    Translation from corporate-speak:
    In exchange for a vague promise to create some “high paying” jobs, the government has to sign the collateral if our business goes south.

    Ah! And the Tax Breaks, por favor!

  • avatar
    aja8888

    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).

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    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.

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