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Seat confirms electric program

Bright spark: Seat has unveiled an electric version of its Altea family truckster.

Spanish car-maker Seat utilises VW parent’s technology to produce electrified twins

14 Nov 2011

SEAT is set to commence field trials of a new all-electric version of its Altea compact MPV alongside a plug-in hybrid version of its closely related Leon small car.

The Spanish car-maker – part of the massive Volkswagen Group – revealed the new Altea XL Electric Ecomotive this week, together with the latest version of the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive plug-in hybrid that was first revealed almost three years ago.

Although Seat said in January 2009 that it planned to start production of a plug-in hybrid in 2014, the latest announcement said its first electrified model would now be launched in 2015.

This will be followed a year later by a full-electric vehicle.

Seat’s two VW Golf-based prototypes will be offered “over the next few months” to government institutions in the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Madrid for use in their vehicle fleets to provide Seat with real-world experience before commencing series production.

Volkswagen announced one year ago, almost to the day, that it will sell all-electric Golfs globally from late 2013.

Earlier this year, the company said it would start testing 500 Golf EVs in Germany next year.

140 center imageLeft: Seat Leon EV.

A prototype electric Golf – called the Blue-E-Motion – was presented at last year’s Los Angeles motor show soon after beating more than 60 entrants to win an economy drive in England. Its 0-100km/h acceleration time was listed at 11.8 seconds.

Not surprisingly, the prototype electric Seat Altea appears to share the Golf EV’s powertrain, with an electric motor (located under the bonnet in place of the petrol engine) producing 85kW of power and 270Nm of torque, giving the machine an electronically limited top speed of 135km/h.

Seat claims that by locating the batteries under the rear seats and the boot there is no intrusion into the passenger compartment.

Solar cells built into the roof drives interior fans that force hot air out of the car when parked in the sun, reducing the energy required afterwards by the climate-control system.

Seat R&D chief Matthias Rabe said: “Seat has its electric future assured. With the electric Altea XL, we are showing just how mature our technology is.

“The electric Altea XL was an intentionally studied choice for the first fleet. It will enable us to experiment with a wide variety of uses.”

Seat’s second electrified vehicle – the updated plug-in hybrid Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive – also employs VW Group technology, combining an electric motor with an unspecified internal combustion engine.

Although technical details are scarce, Seat said the hybrid has an electric-only range of 52km, a top speed of 170km/h (120km/h in electric mode) and an average fuel consumption figure of just 1.7 litres per 100km.

Dr Rabe described the plug-in hybrid as “an exciting and ground-breaking solution”.

“Technically, it allows you to drive in all-electric mode, while at the same time enjoying smart hybrid drive. Thanks to its great range, none of our customers will need to change their lifestyle or transport habits.”

Seat president James Muir said the unveiling of the two prototype vehicles was part of the company’s environmental strategy to commit to a wide range of alternative technologies.

“Customers demand a more sustainable form of mobility, but their needs are diverse,” said Mr Muir.

“Therefore, we believe that a parallel strategy of developing two different technologies will put SEAT in the best position to meet their needs.”

Mr Muir also revealed that the Spanish brand – which has not been in the Australian market since 1999 – would launch four new models in the next year, starting soon with its version of the VW Up city car, to be called the Mii, which was unveiled one month ago.

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