Seat to make purely electric cars with JAC VW in China

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The joint venture JAC Volkswagen have signed agreements for the Seat brand to enter the Chinese market over the next two to three years. The JV aims to focus on smaller electric cars and use their R&D centre in Hefei. 

Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary Seat will enter China by means of the JAC Volkswagen joint venture, which continues to drive Seat’s market entry strategy. For their entry into the Chinese market, the Spanish brand has now been reached in Martorell, Spain, during a visit by a delegation of Chinese government officials from the Anhui province.

This is Seat’s second attempt in China. With the Leon FR, VW had already wanted to establish the Spaniards as an import brand in China in 2012. Two years later, the venture was considered a failure. Now JAC and the Spanish VW subsidiary intend to develop their own platform for smaller electric cars. The first Seat models from Chinese production will most likely be based on JAC technology.

Dr Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Seat: “In the world’s largest market for electric mobility, the close cooperation between Seat and JAC will allow us to create synergies, which will significantly increase our market coverage. Notably, the smaller electric cars segment is growing rapidly and offers a lot of potential.”

The Chinese city of Hefei in the province of Anhui is a focal point of the JAC Volkswagen activities, where they are currently building an R&D centre for electric vehicles. The R&D centre has the purpose of developing electric vehicles, connectivity and autonomous driving technologies tailored to the Chinese market. This includes relevant parts and components and core technologies, with completion planned for 2021.

Together with the R&D centre, in Hefei requirements and demand for future mobility in a fully connected city are to be tested and smart mobility solutions including the development of ride railing or car sharing. Around eight million people live in the city of Hefei, which aims to become a state-of-the-art smart city with the help of this partnership. For these smart city goals, a strategic framework agreement was signed by Volkswagen Group China and its associated mobility company Mobility Asia, as well as JAC and the government of Hefei.

Dr Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO Volkswagen Group China: “With this cooperation, we demonstrate that we are working hard to take a leading role in the field of smart mobility solutions in the Chinese market as well.”

With these agreements, Volkswagen now has the opportunity to test new technologies, business models and products in a connected smart city environment. The focus here is the development of autonomous driving, while Volkswagen Group China, Mobility Asia and JAC will pool their resources and collaborate on autonomous mobility services, including self-driving vehicles (robotaxis) and autonomous fleet management.

As the world’s largest market for EVs, China plays a central role for the Volkswagen Group and its electrification program. Together with JAC, VW already offers the E20X electric car under the SOL brand. The brand was created explicitly for the Chinese market. The model is only a moderately modified offshoot of the JAC compact electric motor iEV7S. What the China launch of Seat as an electric brand means for the future of SOL is not yet known. According to Volkswagen, by 2028, more than half of the 22 million e-cars planned by the Group will be produced in China. The goal is to deliver around 1.5 million electrified vehicles to customers by 2025 and most of these will be purely electric cars.


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