The all-electric Cupra Born hatch will come to Australia “as soon as possible”, but the ID series is still out of reach for as long as Australia drags it feet on vehicle emissions legislation, Volkswagen Australia has told The Driven.
Volkswagen in July declared a broad “New Auto” strategy that will see it aim for 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030, driven by the need to avoid fines it was forced to pay in 2020 due to a delay in the launch of its ID.3 electric hatch.
The ID.3 and the ID.4 electric SUV will shortly by joined by the recently teased electric ID.5 coupe which will also come in a high-powered GTX format. But none of these will come to Australian in the foreseeable future.
However, the Cupra Born – an incarnation of the Spanish-made Seat el-Born that was first announced in 2019 – is a smart-looking electric hatch that will make it to Australia as early as 2022.
It will feature three battery and two electric motor options with a maximum 170kW power and up 540km driving range (based on the European WLTP standard) from a 77kWh battery.
A mid-level variant will come with a 58kWh battery with acceleration from 0-100km/hr in 6.6 seconds, and 420km driving range (WLTP). Its motor comes in a 150kW/310Nm configuration that can be boosted to 170kW/310Nm with an “e-boost performance pack”.
The entry-level Cupra Born will offer 110kW power output and 310Nm torque from its single rear electric motor, while the with a 45kWh lithium-ion battery for an 8.9-second 0-100km/h sprint time, and a 340km estimated range on Europe’s WLTP cycle.
Built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB dedicated electric platform, the Cupra Born comes with 20″ alloys, sport suspension and high-tech additions such as augmented reality.
It can be charged at a top rate of 125kW to add 100km driving range in 7 minutes, and has a heat pump for better energy efficiency in cold weather conditions.
Cupra is set to launch in Australia in 2022. While Volkswagen remained tight-lipped on a launch date for the battery-electric Born, it will follow two plug-in hybrid models (the Ateca and the Leon) Volkswagen Australia’s Kurt McGuiness tells The Driven.
“The inbound Cupra brand will launch with two PHEV models at launch, and will introduce the Born BEV in Australia as soon as possible,” he says.
Pricing for the Born is likewise still under wraps but expect the three options to fall within the $50,000-60,000+ range.
But while McGuiness remains enthusiastic about bringing electric vehicles to Australia, and praises state efforts to make EVs more affordable for Australians, he says the main hurdle is still the lack of a country-wide compulsory emissions standard.
That message has been echoed by Australian-born Tesla chair Robyn Denholm who in April lamented the lack of clean fuel and emissions targets in both Australia and New Zealand noting the dangerous effects car pollutions has on children and those with respiratory conditions in particular.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries in 2020 introduced a voluntary emissions standard but Australia’s fleet emissions remain at least 40% higher than that of Europe where flaunting emissions standards results in fines for carmakers.
As a result, Australian drivers will miss out on VW’s all-electric ID series for the foreseeable future.
“We would love to offer a range of electric vehicles in Australia, and are working with our factory to make this happen,” says McGuiness.
“From a Volkswagen perspective, we are yet to secure production as the highly successful ID family is being prioritised for markets with mandated emission standards.”
And while Victoria in July introduced a regressive EV road user tax (and has already threatened to cancel registrations of those not complying), McGuiness says recent incentives introduced by various states including a $3,000 rebate for EV purchases in NSW and Victoria has been positive for the discussion around more electric models for the local market.
“That being said, despite the Victorian Government’s best efforts to strangle EVs in their infancy, the NSW Government’s progressive plans particularly have been well received by our parent company, which has certainly progressed the discussion around Australia,” he says.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.