Seat’s MEB concept wears the slightly “Game of Thrones”–like name El-Born. It won’t be the first one to the market, but it’s the first MEB car to shed its cloak of disguise in near-production form. Eventually, the El-Born will follow the Volkswagen version to the dealers in 2020, and reportedly these images show a “95-percent production ready” car. That figure is getting thrown around quite a bit these days.
Instead of employing an Autobianchi tactic — Fiat used a lesser Autobianchi badge to whisk future platforms and ideas such as transverse-engined FWD into production before using the same tech under the Fiat brand — Volkswagen will bring the I.D. electric hatchback to market first, instead of using Seat to test the waters. But the Seat is hardly a second banana, as its figures are convincing enough: the 62-kWh battery pack gives it a range of 260 miles (on the WLTP cycle), and its 204-horsepower electric powertrain takes it to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds. With 100-kW DC charging, the battery reaches 80-percent capacity in 47 minutes. The VW version’s production is slated to begin in November 2019.
The El-Born’s cab-forward design gives some hints about the Volkswagen version, even if the MEB platform is more of a skateboard rather than something defining hard points. Seat is VW’s Mediterranean brand with a slightly sportier image so the design is sharper and, for a lack of a better word, more dynamic. The nose has just the tiniest bit of the grille-less Model 3 front about it. Inside, there’s a large, 10-inch touchscreen turned toward the driver, and behind the steering wheel, we see a glimpse of the drive mode selector; there’s no shifter on the center console. The gauge cluster is a simple rectangular screen.
When it reaches the market in Europe, the production Seat El-Born can be priced a little under a comparable Volkswagen, if other Seat models can be used as a yardstick. Seat also has a presence in Mexico, so it’s not completely out of the question to spot one of these elsewhere in North America, either.