Seat electric cars on the cards once costs come down., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
Seat electric cars on the cards once costs come down., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize

Seat electric cars on the cards once costs come down. Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!

Company bosses are focused on expanding the Cupra brand, but Seat may soon break its silence on Seat electric cars.

With the rapid rise of electric vehicles and the growing popularity of the sporty Cupra sub-brand in the coming years, bosses are planning the future of the Spanish company, with the Seat brand likely to gain a lifeline from lower Electric Vehicle development costs.

The company hasn’t launched an all-new product since the 2020 Seat Leon hatchback, and while it was supposed to launch the El-Born as an electric hatchback based on the Volkswagen ID 3, the car has since become Cupra Born. Future product plans have been kept low-key, while Cupra has unveiled a range of bespoke electric models due in 2025.

But it has now emerged that if components and manufacturing costs come down, company bosses can push the Seat brand into an electric future in the next few years.

Werner Tietz, Head of R&D, said: “The Leon is an all-new car, we’ve just updated the Ibiza and the Arona. It’s time for the Cupra and it’s time to electrify the Cupra.

“For now, electrification is still a little bit expensive. We think we have to concentrate on electrifying Cupra, and when the prices for the components go down – batteries are cheaper – then we can discuss and consider talking about Seat again.”

His comments confirm that even if Cupra’s global growth accelerates rapidly, a future Seat-badged car is still possible.

It’s unclear if these Seat cars could be siblings to the new compact Electric Cupra Urban Rebel and its Skoda and Volkswagen siblings, but Seat could use standard and short-wheelbase versions of the MEB range. The Group, and the platform’s SSP successor in 2025, opens up the possibility of launching several Seat electric vehicles in different market segments.

Tietz went on to suggest that the Cupra brand could not replace Seat outright because the two are aimed at “a completely different kind of customer”.

He added: “We have a very small overlap of 10-15% between Seat and Cupra customers. The rest are really new customers. Also in the Volkswagen Group, you have nearly no overlap with other brands. The Cupra customers are completely different.”

Details of future seat-badged products remain completely secret, but bosses will no doubt be looking to replace some of the oldest models in their portfolio. For example, the crossover Seat Ateca has been on the market since 2016, and the siblings Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona have been on the market since 2017.

New vehicle registrations in the UK fell 20.6% to 124,394, the second-lowest May in three years after the 2020 lockdown, as parts shortages affected vehicle availability despite demand.

Adoption of battery electric vehicles jumped 17.7%, accounting for 12.4% of registrations for the month, as manufacturers prioritized supply.

Incentives and infrastructure are key to giving consumers the confidence to choose an electric vehicle for their new car.

UK new car registrations fell -20.6% to 124,394, the second-lowest level since 1992, as supply shortages continued to hamper new purchases, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While purchases by private consumers fell 10.3%, its market share rose 6.1% year-over-year to 53.2%, also as manufacturers sought to increase deliveries to private buyers – especially electric vehicles – in response to the impact on the economy. Correspondingly affected demand is the commercial and large fleet sectors, which currently account for 46.8% of the market.

Despite the myriad challenges facing the industry and a highly distorted market due to limited availability of all vehicle types and technologies, manufacturers have struggled to make progress towards decarbonising road transport and achieving the ambitious net-zero UK target, the SMMT report says. Registrations of pure electric vehicles rose 17.7% in May, accounting for one in eight new cars hitting the road last month. Plug-in hybrids fell 25.5%, while hybrids grew 12.0%, meaning Electric Vehicle deliveries accounted for three-tenths of new vehicle deliveries.

Supply chain challenges have caused the overall market to contract by -8.7% so far this year, equivalent to a loss of 62,724 units, according to SMMT. That was 40.6% below the five-year average from January to May, as the new car market continued to struggle to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “In yet another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle ongoing global parts shortages, with growing battery electric vehicle uptake one of the few bright spots. To continue this momentum and drive a robust mass market for these vehicles, we need to ensure every buyer has the confidence to go electric. This requires an acceleration in the rollout of accessible charging infrastructure to match the increasing number of plug-in vehicles, as well as incentives for the purchase of new, cleaner and greener cars.

“Delivering on Net Zero means renewing the vehicles on our roads at pace but, with rising inflation and a squeeze on household incomes, this will be increasingly difficult unless businesses and private buyers have the confidence and encouragement to do so.”

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Seat electric cars on the cards once costs come down., Electric Vehicle News Bitesize
Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!