New small SEAT electric car could have £20k asking price
The small EV will enhance SEAT’s position as the VW Group's entry point, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
The future of SEAT as a car maker has been called into question in recent years, thanks to the rise of its more premium sibling, Cupra. But while Volkswagen Group bosses had started referring to SEAT as a ‘mobility brand’ rather than a conventional car manufacturer, it seems there may yet be hope for Spain’s oldest automotive business.
Speaking to Auto Express, Marcus Gossen, brand director for SEAT and Cupra in the UK, confirmed that SEAT will be selling cars until at least the end of the decade. And he also provided us with a strong hint about how its product line-up will be positioned in the market. “SEAT has to be accessible,” Gossen told us. “It should be the entry level to the group. We have exciting news coming for SEAT.”
Gossen was quick to dismiss any suggestion that SEAT could be developed into a cut-price value brand, as the Renault Group has done with Dacia. And that’s likely to mean that SEAT could tap into VW’s ambitious project to develop an affordable all-electric model that can be sold for less than £20,000. The plan could be confirmed as soon as March, when SEAT and Cupra hold their annual press conference.
Auto Express broke the story 18 months ago that while the VW Group already has the likes of the Volkswagen ID.2 and Cupra Raval in the works – with projected price tags of around £23,000 – there is a further development unit aiming to deliver another zero-emissions car that can match the likes of the Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza for value. The project is being led by Skoda, which has a history of ‘owning’ base-level technical solutions within the group, such as the 1.0-litre MPI engine that powered cars including the VW up!, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii city car siblings. Skoda boss Klaus Zellmer told us at the time, “We’re tasked to find the right solution for the easiest access into the VW Group.”
Our exclusive images show how a baby SEAT electric car could look – although the headline-grabbing £17,000 versions will almost certainly eschew body-coloured plastics on some of the bumpers and door mirrors.
No technical details are available yet, but our images reflect an expectation that the car will be a supermini-sized vehicle with a smaller battery, instead of a circa-3.7m-long city car – not least because this will allow engineers to tap into the economies of scale from models such as the ID.2. A slightly larger platform will allow the car to be fitted with a battery pack of around 38kWh, using less energy-dense but cheaper-to-produce lithium-iron phosphate chemistry.
At last year’s SEAT and Cupra conference, global boss Wayne Griffiths said: “We can’t electrify both brands at once. SEAT and Cupra complement each other during the transition phase.” He insisted: “We don’t need to decide the future of SEAT today.”
Despite reports of SEAT’s demise, the maker posted strong UK sales in 2023. Gossen joined the business in October and led both brands to positive end-of-year numbers, pushing SEAT to 32,177 registrations – up 45 per cent year on year – and Cupra to 25,658 cars, up 78 per cent.
His goal is to increase SEAT and Cupra’s combined market share from where they stand currently, at three per cent, to five per cent, helped by an increase in retailer numbers. However, he doesn’t expect Cupra sales to overtake those of SEAT, instead balancing out at “about 50:50” in 2024.
Aside from the possibility of an entry-level EV, there are currently no plans for any other new SEAT models to be launched. Instead the company will continue to focus on the existing range of petrol and plug-in hybrid models – the Ibiza, Leon, Arona, Ateca and Tarraco.
Click here for our list of the cheapest electric cars on sale...