Spanish Volkswagen subsidiary SEAT is the latest automobile manufacturer set to make the move to electric vehicle production. With a view to mass-producing its first electric vehicles in the next five years, this week the company presented not one, but two prototype electric vehicles. The first is a plug-in hybrid called the Leo TwinDrive Ecomotive plug-in hybrid, while the second is an all-electric car known as the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive.
The Leon TwinDrive Ecomotive is designed as either a three- or five-door five-seater with a range of 52 km (32 miles) and a top speed of 120 km/h (74.5 mph). Adding the combustion engine to the mix in combined mode sees the vehicle's top speed jump to 170 km/h (105.6 mph). In this mode SEAT expects fuel economy of 1.7 liters per 100 km (138.36 mpg US), which is equivalent to 39 g/km of CO2.
Back in 2009, SEAT said the Leon TwinDive Ecomotive project was the company's first step towards a 100 percent electric car and that car has now arrived in the form of the Altea XL Electric Ecomotive prototype. The exterior similarities between the Leon and the Altea are obvious at a glance but the real differences can be found under the hood.
With an electric motor producing 115 hp (85 kW) and 270 Nm or torque, the five-door, five-seat, all-electric Altea XL boasts a limited top speed of 135 km/h (83.8 mph) and a range of 135 km (83.8 miles). The batteries are located are located under the rear seats and the boot so there's no intrusion into the passenger compartment.
Along with a regenerative braking system, the Altea XL also features rooftop photovoltaic cells that can be used when the car is parked to recirculate fresh air around the passenger compartment and reduce the energy needed to cool the car down later on by the climate control system.
With an eye on gathering information from some real world testing before moving into mass production, SEAT plans to make both models available to governmental institutions in Catalonia and Madrid for use in their vehicle fleets. The company has penciled in 2015 for the launch of its first electric plug-in hybrid, to be followed in 2016 by its first all-electric car.