• New Altea XL Electric Ecomotive and plug-in hybrid Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive
  • SEAT envisages hybrid and electric car production from 2015
  • Electromobility strengthens SEAT’s environmental strategy

SEAT is working on its first electric car designed, developed and manufactured in Spain.  The firm is unveiling the prototype Altea XL Electric Ecomotive, a totally electrically-driven zero-emissions car, as well as the prototype Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive, a plug-in hybrid.

SEAT Twindrive 2011 Electric Vehicle

Over the next few months the Spanish car maker will make available units of both models to government institutions in Catalonia and Madrid for use in their vehicle fleets.  This will provide SEAT with valuable information on use of the cars for assessment with a view to mass production of electric vehicles in the medium-term.

SEAT envisages the launch of its first electric plug-in hybrid car in 2015, to be followed a year later by an all-electric vehicle.

SEAT Twindrive 2011 Electric Vehicle Charging

SEAT’s strategy is to commit to a wide range of alternative technologies.  To this end the Spanish manufacturer is unveiling two different but complementary models at the same time.

SEAT President James Muir said: ‘Customers demand a more sustainable form of mobility, but their needs are diverse.  Therefore, we believe that a parallel strategy of developing two different technologies will put SEAT in the best position to meet their needs.’

The announcement of the launch of the first electric vehicles coincides with the start of the biggest new product offensive SEAT has known.  The company will launch four new models over the next 12 months, the first being SEAT’s smart new urban vehicle – the Mii.

SEAT Twindrive

Electromobility, a team effort

The future of electromobility in Spain depends not only on vehicles but also their components such as batteries, as well as a recharging infrastructure.  For this reason SEAT – the number one industrial investor in R&D in Spain – is heading the CENIT VERDE project.  This public-private-partnership between manufacturers, universities, research centres and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation is taking a holistic research approach to making the electric vehicle a reality in Spain.

The Altea XL Electric Ecomotive, SEAT’s first electric car

The Altea XL Electric Ecomotive blazes the trail for electromobility in Spain.  As with all its vehicles, SEAT guarantees driving pleasure with an engine producing 115 hp (85 kW) and 270 Nm of torque.  This translates into a limited top speed of 135 kph.  With its roomy passenger compartment and generous boot, the electric Altea XL is equally suitable for family transport or company use.

By intelligent location of the batteries under the rear seats and the boot, there is no intrusion into the passenger compartment.  A sophisticated regeneration system with adjustable braking torque optimises energy use.  And when the electric Altea XL is parked in the sun, rooftop photovoltaic cells recirculate fresh air inside the passenger compartment, reducing the energy needed afterwards by the climate control system.

Dr Matthias Rabe, SEAT S.A. Executive Vice-president for R&D, said: ‘SEAT has its electric future assured.  With the electric Altea XL we are showing just how mature our technology is.’

He added: ‘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.’

Leon TwinDrive, an all-purpose car

The new SEAT Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive is a ground-breaking concept in the field of plug-in hybrids, combining the advantage of emission-free driving with the range of a traditional internal combustion engine-equipped vehicle.

In full electric mode the TwinDrive has a range of 52 kilometres, with a top speed of 120 kph.  In combined mode (electrical plus combustion) the consumption forecast is only 1.7 litres of fuel and 18.5 kWh per 100 kms, the equivalent of a rock-bottom 39 g/km of CO2, with a top speed of 170 kph.

Dr Rabe said: ‘The Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive is 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.’

The Ecomotive family, low-emission mobility

Of course, the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive and Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive do not constitute SEAT’s first venture into the field of sustainable mobility and commitment to environmental protection.  The Spanish brand has a long track record in the manufacture of low-emission vehicles.  More than 60% of vehicles marketed by SEAT in Spain and almost half (47%) of all SEATs sold in the UK this year have emission levels below 130 g/km of CO2.

Martorell, a sustainable production plant

SEAT has extended its environmental commitment to its car-manufacturing processes, furthering different projects with a single aim – to reduce CO2 emissions and make a more sustainable and efficient use of energy resources.  By way of example, one innovation at SEAT has been the implementation of EuroEnergest, an energy consumption monitoring system enabling more efficient energy use and savings of 3,900 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Its strategic approach to environmental protection has earned SEAT several plaudits.  One of the most recent was the first-ever awarding of the ISO 50.001 standard in energy efficiency to a Spanish company.

‘SEAT in the Sun’, from 4 to 8 MW in less than a year

Arguably, though, the most impressive project in SEAT’s maturing environmental strategy is ‘SEAT in the Sun’: the largest rooftop photovoltaic facility in Spain, and the biggest of its kind in the European automotive industry.  Equally innovative was the decision to install the photovoltaic cells on the temporary holding areas for vehicle protection.  Capacity has doubled from four to eight megawatts over the past few weeks thanks to the start-up of a new stage.

Next year will see the completion of this project with connection of the final stage, taking installed power to 10.6 MW.  This means that ‘SEAT in the Sun’ will reduce CO2 emissions by 6,200 tonnes per year.

From Martorell to the world, by train

Finally, as a company, SEAT is also a pioneer in the use of the railway for the transport of vehicles and components.  In 2008 the company opened Autometro, a rail link between Martorell and the Port of Barcelona for the transport of finished cars.

Currently SEAT exports more than 40% of its production by sea, and 95% of those vehicles reach the Port of Barcelona via rail.  In 2009 the company set up Cargometro, linking SEAT’s Martorell production plant with the Zona Franca facility.  Taken together, the two rail links take some 57,000 heavy lorry trips off the roads each year – a reduction of 2,600 tonnes in CO2 emissions over 12 months.

In the future, SEAT plans to strengthen its rail strategy even more by increasing its current level of export by train from the current 11% to 30%.