|SEAT Leon Verde PHEV prototype. Click to enlarge.|
SEAT, a Spanish motor company and member of the Volkswagen Group, has unveiled a plug-in hybrid R&D prototype based on the new Leon hatchback. The Leon Verde (“Green”) prototype is the culmination of the four-year Cenit Verde research project in Spain, and was presented at the official closing event of the project.
The plug-in hybrid combines a 120 hp (90 kw) 1.4 TSI gasoline engine with a 75 kW electric motor. Combined maximum output is 125 kW. Combined cycle fuel consumption is estimated at 1.6 l/100 km (147 mpg US), with 36 g/km CO2; all-electric range is 31 miles (50 km). With a fully charged battery and a full 40-liter (10.6 gallons US) gasoline tank, its total range is 507 miles (816 km).
The Leon Verde is equipped with an advanced Human-Machine Interface (HMI) integrated into a smartphone app. This enables the driver to connect to the car via a wireless network with his or her smartphone to manage functions such as energy consumption, battery status, recharge management, and estimated CO2 savings in electric mode; two patents were applied for during the creation of the HMI alone.
In addition, the project has enabled development of a Driving Cycle Predictor, which analyses and memorizes the routines and driving style of the driver, using this information to optimise energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions. SEAT has taken out a patent for this technology, too.
The holistic approach to electric vehicle development undertaken by the Cenit Verde project resulted not only in the new vehicle, but a new approach to charging infrastructure as well.
In collaboration with companies including Cobra, Endesa, Iberdrola and Red Eléctrica Espana, a system of tariff negotiation and smart energy management has been developed, which effectively allows the car to interact with the electricity grid.
The system detects when overall energy consumption is low on the grid, and incentivises, by way of lower costs, charging during these times. If the car is left plugged into a power source between 7pm and 7am, for example, the system will only charge the car at times when it detects the overall demand has dropped, using a recharge manager.
The user can specify whether he or she wishes the system to work this way, paying less for energy consumed when demand is low. Alternatively, a standard quick charge function is also available.
Via a Lear 20 kW on-board charger, the Leon Verde also allows for two-way connection to the grid, allowing it to feed in electricity.
The SEAT Leon Verde prototype is a research and development vehicle, and the result of the collaborative Cenit Verde research project. There are no plans to put the car into series production.