SEAT, the Spanish automotive manufacturer is the latest automotive company to enter the fast growing, electric vehicle industry. The company has confirmed that it will launch its first electric car in autumn 2019. Production of the EV will commence in Bratislava, Slovakia later this year. Deliveries are expected in early 2020. The brand foray into the EV sector, commences with an electric version of its Mii city car, aptly named Mii Electric. The expected range is 161.5 miles on a single charge (WLTP certified). The electric car comes with a 36.8 kWh battery pack and is capable of 0-50 kph in 3.9 seconds, with a maximum speed of 81 mph. The Mii Electric replaces the petrol engine Mii, which is expected to go out of production in July. Prices are yet to be confirmed. The electric vehicle also premiers SEAT’s new ‘Connect Software’, which enables remote climate control adjustments, locking and car status information, from a mobile app. Mr. Luca De Me, the company’s president, said “In Europe, the electric vehicle market grew by 46% in the first four months of the year. Moving forward, we expect electrified vehicles to play an important role within our range.”
The Mii Electric is a strong contender against the VW eUP. Pricing will be key in determining the success of the Mii Electric.
The German automotive brand, Volkswagen, has reported on the progress of its first electric car, the ID.3, unveiled last month. Pre-orders are running ahead of expectations, with over 20,000 pre-bookings received. The order book has been open for less than a month and the company had expected to achieve up to 30,000 orders by September 2019. What is more remarkable, 10,000 pre-orders came in within the first 24 hours, resulting in the website crashing. However to put this in perspective, the total orders for the recently launched Tesla Model 3 crossed 400,000. The compact class, ID.3, will be the first from the Volkswagen all-electric ID family, set to replace its existing electric e-Golf. The ID.3 is an all electric equivalent of the VW Golf hatchback minus the engine i.e. with more space, and an inspiring 342 miles on a single charge.
The significant response to the opening of the order books for recent EV launches, underscores the potential high demand for electric vehicles. The shift from internal combustion engines to electric cars is far closer than the expectations of industry participants. Consumers cannot get enough of electric cars. Manufacturers, with the vision and commitment to the EV sector are well placed to win.
The future of the uptake and maturity of the electric vehicle industry, depends to a large extent on battery technology and costs. Yes, other factors, like legislation, also play a vital role. But given that the on board battery in an electric car is nearly 60% of total vehicle production cost, its importance cannot be underestimated. Companies globally, to include Tesla, are working hard to find significant improvements, such that, the cost of production reduces and density of energy/ range, increases.
A team of German scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Materials and Beam Technology IWS, claim they have the solution. According to the project manager, Dr. Benjamin Schumm, “Our dry transfer coating process aims to noticeably reduce the process costs in electrode coating.”. He went on to comment “The batteries will be able to store more energy in the same volume than today’s lithium-ion batteries.”
The electric vehicle sector, is not the first, nor will it be the last industry, to face critical challenges, as it evolves from a niche sector to mass market adoption. However, as has been the case with industries like renewable energy, computing and communications, solutions to reduce cost and increase efficiency have been successful developed and implemented. We believe, the EV sector has strong potential to achieve the same, in particular, in regards to battery costs and range efficiency.