SEAT has declared its commitment toward a reduced environmental impact by expanding the role of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in its fuel mix. Already the brand has one of the most comprehensive CNG ranges, including the Mii Ecofuel, Ibiza TGI, Arona TGI and Leon TGI, offering a vehicle to meet every customer’s needs.
CNG is an affordable, reliable and ready to go sustainable alternative to conventional combustion fuels such as petrol and diesel, offering emissions and cost reductions. The European CNG network is expanding rapidly, with SEAT selling natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in markets including Spain, Italy and Germany, among many others.
Each vehicle has been designed and developed at SEAT’s headquarters in Martorell, and represents a further step in the firm’s vehicle development programme, showcasing the benefits of using CNG as the primary fuel, a fuel that offers a reduced environmental impact, but doesn’t diminish driving pleasure. And vehicle and maintenance costs of the TGI models are virtually the same as an equivalent Diesel model.
“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 Technology that Delivers
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 kilometre, 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 refuelled.
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.
SEAT is also supporting the development and availability of renewable biomethane (RNG), which neutralises 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. 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 fibre composite construction, significantly reducing their weight and optimising 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.
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.
Modified for CNG
The CNG-fuelled 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 bright future
CNG is incredibly efficient: the energy generated by 1kg of compressed natural gas is equivalent to 2 litres of LPG, 1.3 litres of diesel and 1.5 litres of petrol. Because CNG is cheaper than both diesel and petrol, customers can enjoy longer driving ranges at a reduced cost per kilometre.
Add to this the ability to refuel in a similar time to petrol and diesel, and without the increased initial vehicle costs, and CNG is positioned to play an important part in the future fuels mix, helping maintain our mobility needs.
The CNG network continues to grow rapidly in Europe, helping the market and individual customers to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere.
SEAT’s comprehensive CNG vehicle line-up, selling vehicles in several markets, makes it well positioned to grow the technology’s reach. Expanding CNG usage will not only reduce our environmental impact and give customers fuel price savings, but do so with vehicles that provide the most driving enjoyment.
TGI models summary of ranges (CNG range based on WLTP):
|SEAT Model||CNG tank capacity||Range in CNG mode||Petrol tank capacity||Range in petrol mode*||TOTAL range|
|SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TGI 90 PS||13,8 Kg||360 Km||9 litres||150 Km*||510 Km|
|SEAT Arona 1.0 TGI 90 PS||13,8 Kg||360 Km||9 litres||150 Km*||510 Km|
|SEAT Leon 5p 1.5 TGI 130 PS (manual)||17.3 Kg||440 Km||9 litres||140 Km*||580 Km|
|SEAT Leon 5p 1.5 TGI 130 PS (DSG)||17.3 Kg||440 Km||9 litres||140 Km*||580 Km|
|SEAT Leon ST 1.5 TGI 130 PS (manual)||17.3 Kg||440 Km||9 litres||140 Km*||580 Km|
|SEAT Leon ST 1.5 TGI 130 PS (DSG)||17.3 Kg||440 Km||9 litres||140 Km*||580 Km|
|SEAT Mii Ecofuel 1.0 68 PS||10.9 Kg||290 Km||9 litres||150 Km*||440 Km|
* Estimated figure