Seat unveils electric Altea and Leon plug-in hybrid (2011)

Published: 14 November 2011

Seat has unveiled a pair of prototype electric cars to underline its commitment to EVs: the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive full electric car and the Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive plug-in hybrid.

Martorell has also confirmed plans to build hybrids in 2015 and electric cars from 2016. They'll be designed, developed and manufactured in Spain, as the VW group devolves green car centres of excellence away from Germany.

The electric Seats: the big plan

As you can tell from these first official photographs, the first prototype electric Seats are based on current-tech models nearing the end of their lives. Expect the new electrified production models to appear in next-gen replacements. The electric Altea and hybrid Leon will be tested by government fleets in Catalonia and Madrid to see how they perform in the real world as opposed to an artificial test lab.

The Altea XL Electric Ecomotive has an 85kW electric engine which is enough for a claimed 84mph. Seat claims the generous boot means there's still enough luggage space even with the batteries on board - they're stored under the rear seats, with no intrusion into the loadbay.

The hybrid Leon meanwhile can drive as an EV for 30 miles at up to 75mph. When the battery charge dips, the petrol engine kicks in. Combined usage of both power sources means a predicted average of 166mpg and CO2 output of just 39g/km.

Seat's a bit late to the EV party, isn't it?

True. Launch dates of 2015 and 2016 are hardly at the bleeding edge of technology. But Seat is seemingly on the cusp of a major product offensive after several quiet years. It will launch four new models in the next 12 months, kicking off with the new Mii supermini - the Up from Spain.

And it claims that 47% of all Seats sold in the UK have CO2 emissions below 130g/km, reflecting its strong diesel line-up and cleaner Ecomotive models with carbon-crunching tech on board.

The next step for Seat is the launch of electrified cars. Seat has launched a new public-private partnership between local universities, research centres and the Spanish Ministry of Science in its bid to make electric cars a reality, and it's also cleaning up its factories. Its Spanish factory has the largest photovoltaic cell roof in the European automotive industry. And by delivering its cars by train, it saves 57,000 lorry trips each year (enough to trim 2600 tonnes of CO2 annually).

Every little helps, as they say.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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