SEAT el-Born electric concept to arrive as Cupra hot hatch
SEAT performance spin-off Cupra is to launch a hot hatch version of the SEAT el-Born concept next year in a change of plan for the brands.
The concept, which was first revealed at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, was due to arrive this year as SEAT’s first electric vehicle, offering around 204hp – and providing a 0-62mph time of around 7.5 seconds and a real-world range of around 260 miles (420km) from a 62kWh energy-dense battery pack.
The Cupra el-Born will up the ante in all areas. Based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform used for the ID.3, it features a 77kWh (gross: 82kWh) battery and rear-wheel drive but details of the motor itself have not been announced. The el-Born will balance efficiency with performance, providing a range of up to 310 miles (500km) and a 0-31mph (0-50km/h) time of only 2.9 seconds (0-62mph time not announced yet). It will also be able to offer a range of 161 miles (260km) with just 30 minutes of charging thanks its fast charging capability.
The interior will also provide firm evidence of the model’s mix of performance and eco credentials; it will include sports bucket seats, a new Cupra steering wheel with mode buttons and sustainably sourced materials. Onboard technologies will include augmented reality head-up display and full connectivity.
Wayne Griffiths, SEAT vice-president for sales and marketing and Cupra CEO, said: “The Cupra el-Born displays all the genes of the Cupra brand and is the living proof that performance and electrification are a great match. It will allow us to make an important step into the era of electrification, add more sales and increase the contribution margin.”
The new Cupra el-Born will be manufactured at Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant in Germany – but SEAT has also announced this week that its Martorell plant will manufacture electric vehicles from 2025 onward as part of a €500bn investment in R&D and electrification over the next five years.
The investment will also go towards vehicle development at SEAT’s Technical Centre, particularly towards electrifying the range, and will also see the SEAT:CODE software development centre build new facilities in downtown Barcelona.
In particular, the investment will ready SEAT to develop new models and take on the production of new projects in Martorell to ensure the business is sustainable and jobs are secure for years to come.
SEAT president Carsten Isensee also reflected on the first six months of the year, which have been hit by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: “The first half of the year has been possibly one of the most challenging in SEAT’s history. The 2020 and 2021 financial years were expected to be difficult and we must now add the very serious impact of Covid-19 on the automotive industry.”
But he expressed cautious optimism for the second half of the year: “In recent weeks we have begun to see a slight improvement as we began to resume activity. We are confident of a recovery, at least partially, during the second half of 2020.”