The Volkswagen Group has begun work on ultra-compact electric cars which will be sold under the Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat’s Cupra brands. All three models will be underpinned by a shortened iteration of the Volkswagen Group’s MEB EV platform, have their unique identities, and will be global offerings initially built in Spain.
- Volkswagen Group readying three ultra-compact electric cars
- Will be sold via Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat brands
- Will be built in Spain initially
Volkswagen group’s ultra-compact car plan: what’s new?
The cars themselves will be based on a dedicated architecture referred to as MEB Entry, and largely based on the ones used for the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4. They will essentially serve as replacements for the Volkswagen e-Up, Skoda Citigo-e iV and Seat Mii Electric urban EVs that are on sale overseas.
Confirmation that the urban EVs will be built in Spain comes as the VW Group outlines a massive £8.5 billion (over Rs 81,000 crore) initiative to build a new battery factory in the region of Sagunto and supply it to vehicle production lines in Martorell and Pamplona.
It is the third of six battery factories the VW Group will build in Europe by 2030, with the other two already confirmed in Germany and Sweden. Other countries in the running for the remaining plants include the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. This latest investment is described as "the biggest industrial investment ever made in Spain" and VW says it will create over 3,000 jobs in the country.
The factory, powered by a dedicated solar panel farm less than 10km away, will have an annual capacity of 40GWh and occupy an area of 200 hectares. Construction will begin in the first quarter of 2023 and batteries will start being produced in 2026.
Volkswagen gave strong clues to its plans for an urban EV at last year's Munich motor show, with the compact ID Life crossover concept, but widely circulated reports earlier this year suggested that the car's design team had gone back to the drawing board to swap its retro design cues for a more futuristic look.
There are as many as three different sketches released for the upcoming compact electric vans. Certainly, the latest sketch shown by Diess hints at a completely new treatment for the baby Volkswagen, with its simplistic, angular silhouette swapped for a curvier look. This helps bring its looks in line with the previewed Volkswagen Trinity flagship sedan that will be launched around the same time.
But while those two cars will be evolutions of previously seen concepts, Skoda's take on the formula will be all-new, and one of the first production cars from the Czech brand to adopt a new design treatment referred to as 'Modern Solid'.
Meanwhile, Cupra's car will be an evolution of 2021's outlandish UrbanRebel concept, albeit, as the sketch shows, with less overtly motorsport-inspired design cues. The squat, compact proportions remain, but the huge rear wing has been swapped for a more conventional wing, the front end has dropped its prominent splitter and the rear window will be notably extended – possibly to accommodate a second pair of doors.
The first car designed to this brief will be shown later in 2022, but from the urban EV sketch it is already clear that Skoda will emphasise ruggedness and simplicity with its new-era styling – a marked departure from its current cars, particularly those in lower segments.
VW group’s MEB platform for emerging markets (MEB-Small)
With a 2,650mm wheelbase, the MEB-Small platform will form the basis of future small and affordable ID electric cars from Volkswagen, starting from 2025. The production version of the ID Life concept, likely to be called the ID.1, will be the first model built on the MEB-Small platform that will also underpin models from other VW group brands like Seat and performance brand Cupra. A key distinction of the MEB-Small platform, as compared to the standard MEB platform, is that it is front-wheel drive, while the latter can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive formats. This also helps with the affordability of the models based on this platform. Read more on that here.