Almost all of the car's running gear was massaged in the drive to become a hybrid. A lithium-ion battery pack powers the electric motor, and it is said to propel the car to a range of 50 km and a maximum speed of 100 km (62 miles-per-hour). For the moment, the 1.9-liter TDI engine remains to handle extra-urban duties. However, SEAT is looking at completely phasing out the internal combustion engine on future Ecomotive models.
Spain's Minister of Industry wants one million hybrids on Spanish roads by 2014, which is when the Twin Drive could make its appearance in showrooms. You can read all about it in the press release after the jump, and see it in the gallery of high-res photos below.
For immediate release
22 January 2009
TWIN DRIVE LEON PROTOTYPE MAKES ITS DEBUT
● SEAT petrol/electric hybrid will use ingenious Twin Drive technology
● Aspiration to develop viable 'plug in' electric powered vehicle
● First Twin Drive SEATs could be in showrooms by 2014
A radical new SEAT, conceived to run on electric power or a conventional petrol engine, has been unveiled in Spain. The green-minded Leon Twin Drive Ecomotive prototype made its debut at the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell, near Barcelona.
The ultra-low emissions concept was unveiled in front of Spanish Government minister Miguel Sebastián, as well as Catalan and local government representatives. As its name suggests, the innovative Twin Drive concept is being developed to pioneer important advances in hybrid technology.
The initial aim is for Twin Drive-equipped SEATs to run on electricity in urban areas, switching seamlessly to conventional petrol or diesel power for longer trips out of town. So-called 'plug-in' hybrid propulsion, as well as the eventual phasing out of the internal combustion engine in future Ecomotive models, is also on the agenda for SEAT.
SEAT chairman Erich Schmitt, along with Volkswagen Group Executive Committee member and Chairman of SEAT's Board of Directors, Francisco García Sanz, unveiled the radical Leon prototype.
Mr García Sanz said: 'Half way through the last century we made a decisive contribution to putting a whole generation on wheels. Today, 50 years on, we also want to be leading players at the beginning of a process of development and industrialisation of this type of car.'
SEAT's ambitious Twin Drive development plan, which stretches to 2014, focuses on creating a whole range of Ecomotive vehicles with exceptional fuel economy and dramatically reduced CO2 emissions.
The car shown at Martorell features an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. There has been extensive modification of the gearbox, brakes, heating and cooling systems, while major changes to the vehicle's electronics have also been carried out.
The prototype will allow engineers at the Spanish brand's state-of-the-art technical centre to research advanced electrical propulsion techniques, battery recharging and vehicle range.
As things stand, of course, SEAT is already at the forefront of low emissions, high economy motoring with models such as the new generation Ibiza Ecomotive, current Leon Ecomotive and Alhambra Ecomotive all leading the way in their respective segments of the market.
The forthcoming new Ibiza Ecomotive, for instance, is capable of 76.3 mpg on the combined cycle (94.2 mpg extra urban), with joint best-in-class CO2 emissions of just 98 g/km.