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Cupra Born EV firms for Australia

All-electric Cupra Born hatch looking more likely to reach Australia than VW ID.3

29 Jun 2021

CUPRA’S first fully electric vehicle, the Born hatchback, might be aglaring omission from itsintroductory 2022 Australian model line-up but the Born’s arrival status appears destined to change – and sooner rather than later, potentially followed by the Tavascan electric SUV.


With theNew South Wales government’srecent electric vehicle strategy announcement having opened the door for other states to begin actively promoting EV ownership, Cupra Australia says the Born’s path to these shores has become much smoother.


Speaking at last week’s Cupra brand launch in Sydney, Cupra Australia products and services manager Jeff Shafer described the Born as “a real statement about the future of Cupra and a car that we’re very interested in”.


Named after a famous central neighbourhood in Barcelona, about 30km from Cupra’s global headquarters, the Spanish brand’s first EV is due to begin European sales this September.


A close relative of the Volkswagen ID.3 EV, the rear-drive Cupra Born will offer three powertrains in Europe, including an optional e-Boost1 performance package with a 77kWh battery, 170kW of power, 540km of range and a 0-100km/h time of 7.0 seconds.


“We’re in discussions with Cupra about bringing it to Australia, but as with other EVs in the group, we do have a challenge to make our case to get the car green-lighted,” said Mr Shafer.


Once there is a federal approach to accelerating the transition to cleaner vehicles, Mr Shafer said the Australian introduction of the Cupra Born will become a much higher priority for the Volkswagen Group, though the car remains on the radar for Australian introduction irrespective of existing EV policy.


“I can’t give you a timeframe today on (the Born) but electric vehicles will form an important part of the Cupra range in the future,” he said.


The Cupra Born is looking more likely to come here than its Volkswagen ID.3 cousin, with VW’s Australian EV push likely to be focused on the ID.4 SUV and the intriguing ID.Buzz that is based on an electric 2017 Frankfurt Show concept inspired by the original VW Microbus.


“Speaking for both sides, ID.4 would certainly be the car that (Volkswagen) would ideally start their passenger-vehicle EV roll-out with,” said VW Group Australia (VGA) general manager of corporate communication Paul Pottinger.


“But then there’s also a great deal to be said for the ID.Buzz.”


With Cupra focused on the Born hatchback and Volkswagen favouring the more family-friendly ID.4 and ID.Buzz for Australia, Mr Pottinger said the Born would not step on the toes of any other VGA EV in this market – particularly if it is offered here in lieu of the Volkswagen ID.3, as speculated by GoAuto.


“All the brands are trying their different ways to have this conversation,” said Mr Pottinger. “Everyone’s a winner of one plus one.”


Indeed, the Born will not be Cupra’s only EV. In March the Spanish performance brand confirmed it will build a production version of its 2019 Tavascan Electric Concept, set to be unveiled in 2024 as a performance and technology flagship for the up-and-coming brand.


“The story of Cupra is ultimately one of electrification,” Cupra Australia brand director Ben Wilks toldGoAuto.


“Seeing some of the developments of late around fuel quality and around recent developments in New South Wales (regarding EV policy), it’s great to see some positive developments in that space.”


“It’s positive news from our perspective in terms of trying to secure those vehicles,” added Mr Wilks, referring to not only the Cupra Born but also Volkswagen’s forthcoming EVs and Cupra’s future Tavascan electric SUV.


“For us, the Born and Tavascan are important,” he said.


“Looking forward, we expect even more exciting vehicles to join the Cupra range (such as the) Tavascan, which, like the Formentor, is a really pure expression of the Cupra DNA but more evolved, and a representation of how style and performance will continue in the age of electrification,” addedd Mr Shafer.


As for Australia’s evolving ‘state-versus-state’ situation when it comes to electric vehicle policy, Mr Wilks said he was encouraged by the developments but emphasised that “we also have to have this at a national level as well”.


“The opportunity to have a playing field that is friendly towards the idea of electrification is really valuable,” said Mr Wilks.


“The news from New South Wales is definitely where we should be headed, but what we can’t have is a materially different situation between what Victoria offers, what New South Wales offers, what ACT, South Australia and WA offer.


“This becomes a difficult situation for consumers and it’s very difficult from a manufacturer point of view as well.”


VGA PR and group electric vehicles manager, Kurt McGuinness, said the NSW government announcement happened at a convenient time given Cupra Australia’s reveal of its virtually all-PHEV line-up and EV future, but that there was still plenty of ground to cover before reaching a national EV consensus.


“We’ve spent a long time talking the talk; we now need to walk the walk,” said Mr McGuinness.


“A big part of what I’m going to be working on moving forward is making sure that we are doing that – tackling things holistically rather than just fighting factions, where we’re actually looking at this (implementation of an EV strategy) as a national agenda.”

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