Volkswagen Spanish brand Seat will take its all-electric el-Born hatchback to New Zealand, with a release date hoped for early 2021.
The Spanish carmaker, which has committed to releasing two electric and four plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2021, confirmed that it will sell its el-Born in the island nation on Tuesday according to NZ news site Stuff.
First debuted as a concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018, the 100 per cent electric el-Born will be built on parent company Volkswagen’s modular MEB platform, fitted with a 58kWh battery and offer 370km real world range.
Joining the all-electric version of the Seat Mii small city car, the el-Born is a stylish number that will roll off the same Zwickau production line as its VW counterpart, the ID3.
A price has not yet been confirmed for New Zealand, although it is likely that the carmaker will seek to place the el-Born competitively within the small car market.
“We probably wouldn’t bother with that (el-Born) if it was going to be exactly the same price as the Volkswagen,” Seat NZ’s general manager James Yates told Stuff.
“We would expect to be in a similar state (with pricing) as occurs now; for example, our Leon is on the same platform as a Golf … we would expect that will flow onto the electric product,” said Yates.
Referring to the fact that the Leon currently costs about $NZ6000 ($A5,700) less than the Golf, Yates implies that the Seat el-Born in New Zealand at least will come in at less than the ID.3 – the base version of which will cost “under €40,000” ($A64,600 at today’s rates), once released.
While an expected launch date has been pencilled in by the NZ office for the Spanish brand, there are some unknowns that may delay its arrival.
With stricter fuel emissions regulations being introduced in the EU next year, many European carmakers may concentrate their efforts on reducing their average fleet emissions to avoid punishing fines, with VW being no exception.
“The European market is a big priority,” Volkswagen NZ general manager Tom Ruddenklau told Stuff.
“They have to create some good demand over there so we know already a lot of the production has been prioritised to that.
“We’re hoping 2021, but my gut tells me it could be a wee bit later. But we’re right in the thick of product planning for the ID range.”
Australia, on the other hand, will not see a revival of Seat, let alone the electric el-Born, in Australia.
Seat has previously enjoyed a short-lived five-year stint on the Australian auto market, with VW CEO Juergen Stackmann indicating in 2014 that the brand might see a return to Australian shores in 2016.
However, according to VW Australia’s brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness, with Skoda’s presence now well on the way to gaining a decent foothold, there are no current plans for a return for Seat in Australia.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.