Tuesday 21 May 2019

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Seat finds Tesla inspiration in styling for first EV

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 4:33pm

Seat has just shown off its Geneva Motor Show star, the all-electric El-Born. Although still a concept car, it’s a very close look at a 2020 production model which will share its all-battery underpinnings with the upcoming Volkswagen ID.

Underneath is the same MEB electric car platform which VW will be putting into production later this year, and Seat is giving us our first glimpse at how well it will perform in real-world conditions.

Under the new WLTP economy and emissions tests, the El-Born will put a claimed 420km between charges — short of the original 500km range first claimed for the VW ID, but impressive nonetheless. It’s brisk in its performance too; hitting 100km/h from rest in 7.5 seconds.

“Mobility is evolving and with it, the cars we drive. Seat is at the forefront of this change, and the el-Born concept embodies the technologies and design philosophy that will help us meet the challenges we face in the future,” said Luca de Meo, President of Seat.

In terms of style, well while Seat is making much play of the way the windscreen pillars are pulled forward, to maximise cabin space (which should be quite MPV-like, thanks to the El-Born’s flat floor and compact electric motor), and “a double layer spoiler (which) contributes to the aerodynamic performance”, there’s no getting away from the fact that the front of the El-Born bears more than a passing resemblance to Tesla’s much-hyped Model 3.

In fact, from dead ahead it’s going to be quite difficult to tell the two apart. Seat, with a face of pure innocence, said merely that “there is no need to take in air to cool the engine so no demand for a grille” but this is either flattery through imitation, or a flip of two fingers at Tesla.

In technical terms, it gets a 204hp single electric motor, mounted at the rear, while the batteries are arranged in a flat ‘skateboard’ layout under the floor. It’s also setup for fast charging, sort of.

Find a 100kW fast-charger (there are none in Ireland, as yet) and you can recharge the batteries to 80 per cent full in 47 minutes. Hopefully, the new families of 150kW chargers, due to start being installed in Ireland by the Ionity group, will speed that up a bit more.

To try and preserve that range, the El-Born is fitted with a heat pump, which can feed warm air to the cabin without overly draining the battery. Seat claims that the heat pump adds as much as 60km to the overall range.

The interior is relatively conventional, which perhaps reinforces the word coming from within Seat that the El-Born is 95 per cent production-ready, and not a pie-in-the-sky concept car.

“Seat is committed to being at the cutting edge of vehicle technology and we’re thrilled to be revealing our very first all-electric vehicle. The El-Born is an innovative yet practical concept car, that’s both technologically advanced and environmentally friendly. We are deeply in tune with the future mobility demands of our customer base and the El-Born is the ideal product that will take advantage of this ever changing consumer demands and the current and future tax reliefs in Ireland,” said Niall Phillips, Brand Director at Seat Ireland.

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