SEAT drives forward with sustainable natural gas line-up
SEAT continues to spearhead the introduction of CNG technology, giving customers the widest choice of vehicles that are cleaner, more sustainable and offer even greater efficiency. The brand’s range includes the Mii Ecofuel, Ibiza TGI, Arona TGI and Leon TGI, meaning there is a CNG-powered vehicle to suit every lifestyle and taste, and take advantage of the fast-growing CNG network in Europe, together with most relevant advantages of Natural Gas Mobility which are sustainability and very low cost per kilometer.
Each vehicle has been designed and developed at SEAT’s headquarters in Martorell, and represents a further step in the firm’s vehicle development program, showcasing the benefits of using CNG as the primary fuel, a fuel that offers a reduced environmental impact, but doesn’t diminish driving pleasure.
“SEAT is committed to boosting CNG as a sustainable alternative to conventional fossil fuels. It provides the opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions without impacting on our vehicles’ distinctive characteristics,” said Luca de Meo, President of SEAT. “And thanks to the technology’s compatibility with renewable bio-methane, it makes it an important part of the fuel mix as we move towards low emission mobility.”
A CNG vehicle reduces CO2 emissions by about 25% compared to a petrol driven equivalent. As well as ecological and tax benefits, TGI technology offers exceptionally low costs per kilometer, up to 50% cheaper than a petrol equivalent model and 30% cheaper than a diesel – and with the further improvements SEAT has made to the technology, now it can go even further before needing to be refueled.
The major development is the introduction of a third CNG tank; in the case of the Ibiza and the Arona, the CNG range-only now reaches up to 360km (based on WLTP), while the Leon can reach up to 440km (based on WLTP). This new configuration meets the demands of TGI customers who wanted an increased mileage in CNG mode.
With CNG technology SEAT has the advantage of being able to offer customers a real alternative that is both effective and modern, in a vehicle that costs virtually the same as an equivalent Diesel model. Plus, the maintenance costs of the TGI models are similar to those of traditional combustion engine vehicles. The move means that vehicles are cleaner and even better value for money, helped greatly by CNG’s efficiency over other fuels.
SEAT is also supporting the development and availability of renewable bio-methane, which neutralizes CO2 emissions generated through vehicle use. Only a pure electric vehicle running on 100% renewable energy would offer a better overall outcome.
New configuration with higher CNG range
SEAT’s decision to increase mileage in CNG mode rather than petrol has come as a result of the demand by SEAT customers who currently use a CNG vehicle: drivers are systematically ending up choosing to use CNG since they are aware of the vehicle’s increased sustainability, the considerable savings on fuel, and they already know where the nearest supply points are on their regular driving routes.
The Mii Ecofuel, the Ibiza TGI and the Arona TGI use tanks made of high-strength steel, while the SEAT Leon 1.5 TGI EVO is fitted with a combination of one high-strength steel tank, which is smaller and located ahead of the rear axle – and two new large tanks located behind the rear axle, that are manufactured in a carbon fiber composite construction, significantly reducing their weight and optimizing weight distribution.
And while the Mii, Ibiza, Arona and Leon all use natural gas as the main fuel, should the outside temperature fall below -10°C, the engine will start in petrol mode whilst the gas injectors are heated to working temperature before activating the CNG circuit. The switchover happens automatically, and the driver doesn’t perceive any difference to the vehicle’s performance or dynamics, but the approach means vehicles can cope in all conditions.
In normal driving scenarios, SEAT’s CNG vehicles only use petrol as an alternative fuel when the CNG tanks are empty, although with significant gas ranges, the need to use petrol should be infrequent. But even in the event of using the petrol tank, the switch is so seamless that the driver is unlikely to notice.
The SEAT Leon is manufactured on the MQB-A platform (Modularer Querbaukasten), and both the Ibiza and the Arona use MQB-A0 technology. These platforms give greater manufacturing flexibility and a more robust implementation, as well as achieving a very light, functional, safe body with enormous structural rigidity. All the TGI versions comply with the highest crash safety standards.
The Ibiza, the Arona and the Leon are produced at the SEAT plant in Martorell, Spain, while the Mii Ecofuel is manufactured at the Bratislava plant in Slovakia. Each model is assembled on the same line as other vehicles in SEAT’s line-up, but each has been adapted to meet the demands of using CNG as the primary fuel.
The CNG-fueled vehicles incorporate two (Mii Ecofuel) or three (Ibiza, Arona and Leon TGI) CNG tanks, a filling nozzle located behind the petrol filler cover, gas pressure sensors and an electronic two-stage pressure regulator that effectively controls gas distribution to the CNG engine – both Ecofuel and TGI versions – are substantially modified and have many specific parts essential for an optimum operation in both gas and petrol modes, as well as parts specially adapted to the characteristics of the combustion of natural gas (reinforced pistons and optimized piston rings, reinforced bearing shells, adapted camshafts, valve guide material and reinforced valve seats, nitrided exhaust valves, lambda sensor and catalytic convertor optimized for methane conversion, etc.).
Although CNG is stored at high pressure, (approximately 200bar), the storage tanks are built and homologated to withstand more than twice their maximum working pressure. The high-pressure pipe sections are made of stainless steel and electronic safety valves isolate each section of the high pressure circuit. The tanks themselves are fitted with thermal fuses that open in the unlikely event of extreme heat to release the gas which is then safely dispelled.
A range of characters
SEAT has developed a family of CNG vehicles to match its diverse customer base. The Mii, Ibiza, Arona and Leon provide the widest choice of vehicles to meet the demands of any lifestyle, whether it is negotiating tight city streets or planning journey’s further afield.
All blend SEAT’s renowned driving dynamics, practicality and character with even greater efficiency and reduced emissions.