The Spanish automaker also rolls out its vision of electric mobility with two concept cars at the recent Automobile Barcelona: the first all-electric SEAT el-Born and the SEAT Minimó (below, left).
VW CEO and SEAT Chairman Herbert Diess says the agreement between the partners in the Chinese JAC-VW joint venture allows the next step for SEAT’s move into China.
SEAT aims to enter the Chinese market within two to three years.
“With the introduction of our business in China, we are boosting the future of the company and of electric mobility at the same time. China is the benchmark country for electric vehicles,” SEAT CEO Luca de Meo says in a statement.
The JAC-VW JV is located in Hefei, where the automakers will focus on the development, production and marketing of battery-electric vehicles. The JV-owned R&D center is expected to open in 2021.
VW Group China also signs a smart city partnership with Hefei, a city of 8 million, in a project that will test new technologies, business models and products in a connected smart-city environment.
The focus is on the development of autonomous driving. VW Group China, its associated mobility company Mobility Asia and JAC will pool resources and collaborate on autonomous mobility services, including self-driving vehicles and autonomous fleet management. The partnership also includes areas such as ride hailing or car sharing.
JAC and SEAT plan to develop their own platform for smaller EVs.
“The close cooperation between SEAT and JAC will allow us to create synergies, which will significantly increase our market coverage,” Diess says. “The smaller electric cars segment is growing rapidly and offers a lot of potential.”
SEAT’s emphasis on electric mobility is underscored by the el-Born concept, the brand’s first model conceived as an EV. It is scheduled for market launch in 2020.
SEAT says with a range of 186 to 260 miles (300 to 420 km) from its 58-kWh battery, the el-Born is ready to travel beyond urban limits. The battery is compatible with 100-kW direct-current superchargers. The el-Born can be charged with the electricity needed for at least 161 miles (260 km) in only 30 minutes.
The Minimó concept vehicle displayed at Barcelona combines the comfort and safety of a car with the agility of a motorcycle. The concept confirms SEAT’s commitment to urban micro-mobility and expands the easy-mobility ecosystem the brand is fostering.
Also at the Barcelona show, Cupra, SEAT’s independent high-performance branch, displays the e-Racer, which it calls the first all-electric touring racecar.
The Cupra e-Racer offers 402 hp of continuous power and up to 670 hp of peak power. It can reach a top speed of 168 mph (270 km/h), accelerates from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and from 0-124 mph (200 km/h) in 8.2 seconds.