BARCELONA -- Volkswagen Group's Seat brand is preparing to launch a full electric car, backtracking on its previous strategy to shun EVs because they would cost too much for its mainly young customer base.
Seat could launch a compact-sized EV in 2019, the brand's CEO, Luca de Meo, said at a press event here on Tuesday.
He said Seat is working to develop its own EV using parent Volkswagen Group's modular MEB architecture for electric vehicles. "If the numbers are positive, we could launch the car in 2019," de Meo told Automotive News Europe.
Volkswagen development chief Frank Welsch said last month that the group's core VW marque has finished developing the MEB architecture, opening the door for other group brands to begin developing their own electric models.
If approved for launch in 2019, Seat's EV would be on sale before VW brand's first purpose-developed battery-powered car, just as the brand's new Ibiza is the first VW Group car to use the company's new MQB A0 platform for small cars, ahead of the Polo.
VW said it will launch a Golf-sized EV in 2020 based on its I.D. concept car unveiled at the Paris auto show in October.
De Meo said Seat faces a challenge to develop an EV that its younger customers can afford, but it is a task the brand must tackle as EU regulators impose tighter emissions rules and sales of diesels decline. Selling EVs would give Seat an "immediate and clear benefit" to reduce CO2 emissions from its new-car fleet, more so than launching partially electrified cars such as hybrids, he said.
The average Seat customer is 45, compared with 54 for rival brands, de Meo said.