Volkswagen reworks plans for junior electric cars

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 electric cars such as the Volkswagen e-Up, 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 German car-making giant, including the impending Volkswagen ID 3 and Skoda Enyag.

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 group’s strategy regarding brands, production systems and markets”.

Known under the working title MEB Entry, the project was planned to be have been developed in a cooperation between Seat and the Volkswagen Group’s newest Chinese joint-venture partner, JAC Automobile Group.

However, recent developments, including the departure of SEA CE) Luca de Meo to Renault and a realignment of the Volkswagen 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 cooperation 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 85kW motor and a claimed 300-kilometre 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 Volkswagen 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,” as “it would have not made sense then for them to continue to cooperate with JAC”.

Greg Kable

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