MADRID -- Volkswagen Group's Seat brand will launch its first full-electric car in 2020 as part of its growth ambitions following its return to profitability.
The EV will have a 500-km (311-mile) range. It will be based on parent Volkswagen Group's MEB electric-car architecture that will also underpin the VW brand's upcoming I.D. family.
"2020 will be Seat's year of electrification," the brand's president, Luca De Meo, said at the company's annual results presentation here on Thursday.
The EV will be competitively priced and Seat is working on sales formulas to keep the price affordable, including renting the battery, de Meo said.
The car will be about the size of the brand's Leon hatchback but with a much roomier cabin like the VW I.D. It will be built alongside I.D. cars at VW Group's factory in Zwickau, Germany.
Seat did not give any information about the car's name. It could be called the Born, Born-E or E-Born after El Born, one of Barcelona's trendiest areas, the UK motoring magazine AutoExpress said.
De Meo said Seat will need a second full-electric vehicle to meet 2025 European Union CO2 emissions targets. It has not been decided yet which kind of vehicle it will be, he said.
Seat has no current plans to launch an electric version of its Mii minicar. The Mii's VW brand sibling, the Up, has a battery-powered version and Skoda will introduce an electric version of its Citigo variant next year. "Seat can decide to launch an electric Mii relatively quickly if we need it to make the CO2 targets," de Meo said.
Seat said it will launch one new car every six months through 2020.
This year, the Tarraco seven-seat midsize SUV and Cupra Ateca will arrive in dealerships. The new-generation Leon will go on sale next year. A plug-in hybrid Leon will go on sale in 2020 with an electric driving range of 50 km. The Leon will also offer mild-hybrid technology, de Meo said, without further specifying.
Seat will add its first crossover utility vehicle in 2020.
Seat also reaffirmed its commitment to CNG-powered vehicles. This year it will launch a CNG version of the Arona, which Seat says will be the only SUV on the market powered by natural gas. De Meo said he has asked the Spanish government offer EV-style incentives to boost CNG sales as as happened in Germany and Italy.
Seat is expanding into new markets as it seeks sustainable profitability. It is building its own and other VW Group vehicles in a new plant in Algeria, its first factory outside Spain, and is studying possible production in Mexico to facilitate access to more Central and South American markets. In addition, Seat has started selling its models in Norway and New Zealand.
Seat said 2017 profit after tax under Spanish accounting rules increased 21 percent to 281 million euros. Operating profit fell to 116 million euros from 143 million because of higher volumes and higher investment activities due to new products with higher depreciation. Vehicle deliveries last year were 468,400.