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Cupra takes charge of Volkswagen’s low-cost MEB-21 EV platform, led by 2025 Urban Rebel


New Spanish performance brand given charge of critical entry-level VW electric car platform with circa-$30,000 price target

Barcelona-based carmaker Cupra has been placed in charge of the development of the Volkswagen Group’s crucial new low-cost electric vehicle platform named MEB-21, set for release under a range of Group models in 2025.

MEB-21 is a cheaper front-wheel drive derivative of the Group’s rear-drive MEB architecture – analogous to the simpler MQB-A0 chassis used by today’s Volkswagen Polo or Audi A1 in comparison to the more sophisticated MQB Evo used by the Golf and A3.

Cupra’s Urban Rebel will be joined by Volkswagen and Skoda models on MEB-21

Cupra’s 1100-strong research and development department based in Barcelona is developing MEB-21, which will support a range of models from the Spanish marque, plus Volkswagen and Skoda, with most cars being about four metres in length. Both left-hand drive and right-hand drive production has been confirmed.

Led by a production version of the Cupra Urban Rebel concept, MEB-21 will support larger batteries than many expected, with Cupra head of R&D Werner Tietz confirming to Chasing Cars that a battery of more than 50kWh will be available in MEB-21 cars.

This available long-range battery will support a maximum range of 440km in the Urban Rebel and its cousins from Volkswagen and Skoda. Partially due to large skateboard batteries, MEB-21 cars will weigh in excess of 1500kg, or about 300kg more than an equivalent Volkswagen Polo with a petrol engine.

A high-performance Cupra Urban Rebel will make 166kW of power with FWD

Tietz confirmed that a high-performance powertrain will be offered, producing 166kW of power – good enough to sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds – while offering 400km in performance guise.

Dual motors (and hence, all-wheel drive) will not be compatible with MEB-21, with the entry-level EV platform being strictly single-motor front-wheel drive. Smaller, lighter batteries with lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry will be available, promising about 300km of range, while the longer-range cars use nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries.

The controlling reason behind the lower cost of the MEB-21 platform when compared to ‘full’ MEB is the shorter harnesses and more efficient cooling loops that are permitted when concentrating all high-voltage parts on the front axle.

MEB-21 cars are expected to start from around $30,000 in entry-level guise

The location of the relatively bulky motor at the front of the vehicle also liberates considerable boot space, with Tietz confirming that the Urban Rebel will have more than 400 litres of cargo capacity – compared to 385 litres for the 30cm-longer, rear-drive Born.

An affordable entry price of about $30,000 is being targeted, with Cupra chief executive Wayne Griffiths saying that brand’s Urban Rebel is “the car that will democratise urban electric mobility” on its release in 2025.

Spain has been selected for production of the Urban Rebel, and likely the Volkswagen and Skoda models set to sit on the MEB-21 platform as well. The Spanish government is considering the use of European Union funding to also incentivise the production of at least one of the MEB-21 batteries to occur in Spain.

A near-production example of the Urban Rebel was shown to media in Barcelona this morning, with the large rear wing removed since the last time the concept was shown to the public at last year’s Munich motor show.

Inside, the still-unfinished Urban Rebel sports a distinctive cabin concept focussed around an expandable digital driver display and Sony Playstation-esque steering wheel controls.

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