Electric power enables sleak Seat concept style

  • 22-Oct-2010 09:27 EDT

A battery-electric powertrain permits the Seat IBE's low hoodline while preserving pedestrian-friendly crash characteristics.

The Volkswagen Group’s Spanish Seat subsidiary has cast about for its own identity in the ever-growing VW family—10 brands with Porsche’s acquisition, and the company has apparently decided to pitch itself as a youthful, sporty brand. To that end, Seat debuted the IBE concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show to illustrate its ability to produce cars that are both sporty looking and environmentally friendly.

The 2+2 sport coupe is just 150 in (3810 mm) long and is a low-slung 48.4 in (1230 mm) tall and an aggressive 69.7 in (1770 mm) wide, lending the IBE the dynamic proportions of an exciting sport coupe like the original Volkswagen Scirocco.

Unlike the old Scirocco, however, the IBE is not powered by an internal-combustion engine but by a battery electric drivetrain. While the electric drive is obviously employed for its environmental benefits, it also has a beneficial impact on styling.

That’s because European pedestrian protection standards have effectively killed the low, sloping hoodline in an effort to provide crush space between the hood and the top of the engine. But the IBE shows a potential avenue back to wedgy hoodlines, with a compact 75-kW electric motor and electronic control module slipping easily beneath the concept’s sleek hood.

“The IBE is a gene pool for our next generation of vehicles,” explained Seat head of design Luc Donckerwolke. “Many of its elements describe our design language going forward, and it demonstrates how well driving pleasure and ecology come together at Seat. Driving will be lots of fun in the electric age too, at least in a Seat.”

He points to the shoulder line over the rear wheel arches as an example of Seat’s engineering and manufacturing prowess because of the challenge in tooling the stamping dies for such a part. Use of LED lighting front and rear also underscores Seat’s technical capabilities.

The clean design of the IBE is unmolested by ornamentation, with no chrome trim on the sheetmetal and only a chrome ring around the grille area.

The electric drivetrain enabling this styling flexibility includes an 18-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack beneath the rear load shelf, where it shares space with an unspecified “incredibly compact” rear independent suspension design.

With 200 N·m (148 lb·ft) of torque, the electric drive accelerates the 2425-lb (1100-kg) IBE to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 9.7 s, below the 10-s threshold considered the minimum acceptable for a car with sporting pretensions. Top speed is limited to 160 km/h (100 mph), which is plenty for the urban driving cycle envisioned for the IBE. The motor’s rated continuous power is 50 kW and the estimated range is 81 mi (130 km).

The company attributes the IBE’s light weight to its use of aluminum as well as steel but did not provide specifics about their use in the car.

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