VW Group reworks plans for junior electric car
06. May 2020 - autocar
Seat is no longer responsible for the development of the MEB Entry project
The Volkswagen Group has taken responsibility for the development of its new entry-level electric car project out of the hands of Seat in a reworking of its global operations, according to new reports.
Created to develop replacements for the Volkswagen e-Up, Seat Mii Electric and Skoda Citigo-e iV, the project is now expected to come under the direct responsibility of Volkswagen. This move will allow engineering solutions and economies of scale from the larger MEB platform to be drawn upon.
The MEB platform underpins a wide range of electric cars planned by the VW Group, including the impending Volkswagen ID 3, Seat El-Born and Skoda Enyaq.
Quoting an official statement by Seat, Automotive News Europe says the decision to pull the Spanish firm from development of the new entry-level electric car was taken "in the framework of a Volkswagen Group revision of its global strategy regarding brands, production systems and markets".
Known under the working title MEB Entry, the project was to have been developed jointly by Seat and the VW Group's newest Chinese partner, JAC Automobile Group.
However, recent developments, including the departure of Seat CEO Luca de Meo to Renault and a realignment of the VW Group's Chinese operations, placed the project under renewed focus and led to a change in development plans.
JAC has already developed an electric car in co-operation with Volkswagen through an operation known as Jianghuai Volkswagen Automotive. Sold under the Chinese-market brand Sol, the e20x is based on the JAC iEV7S, with a 114bhp motor and a claimed 186-mile range.
JAC was chosen as a joint-venture partner for Seat, which originally planned to enter the Chinese market in 2021. But with the successful introduction of the Jetta brand, which sells subtly restyled Seat models in China, Seat has postponed plans to enter the world's largest car market.
It's not yet known whether Volkswagen will continue to co-operate with JAC on the development of its entry-level electric car project.
Automotive News quotes a VW Group spokesman as saying the decision to strip Seat of responsibility for the MEB Entry "is connected to the decision by Seat not to go to China", because "it would have not made sense then for them to continue to co-operate with JAC".