SEAT's gas future for Cupra?

SEAT's Cupra sub-brand isn't doing as well as it should in the sales charts. Could CNG be the future?

Seat is not making the money it should. The man charged with fixing the company is Welshman James Muir, former head of Mazda Motor Europe and the first properly hands-on Seat chairman in years. Mindful of both environmental pressure and the bottom line, he finds himself considering the future of the Cupra sub-brand.

'Not enough people buy them,' he says. 'I need to make it something special and different from all the other hot hatches, to give people a reason to buy.'

One answer, Muir thinks, is methane. Currently available, sparsely, for car use as CNG (compressed natural gas), it can easily be generated using natural, renewable, carbon-neutral resources. 'We're not talking about fields of biofuel crops which use land better used for food production,' he says, 'but plant matter grown on land that's otherwise useless. Willow grows well in marshland and it's a very good methane source.'

The point about methane is that an engine running on it produces considerably more power than a petrol engine, because it can run at a higher compression ratio. And burning methane produces little CO2, because there is just one carbon atom in each methane molecule.

Obviously there's the hefty problem of establishing an eco-friendly methane supply, but the idea of basing a performance brand around this power-rich fuel is an intriguing one. Don't expect Seat Cupra CH3s just yet, but it could happen.

Recommended

​SEAT Leon Cupra (2014-2021) review - more excitement than a Golf GTI?
SEAT Leon Cupra hatchback

​SEAT Leon Cupra (2014-2021) review - more excitement than a Golf GTI?

The SEAT Leon Cupra is at the end of its lifespan, but has only become better with age
10 Jun 2021

Most Popular

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car
M-Sport Fiat Panda rally
Fiat Panda

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car

This Fiat Panda 4x4 has been transformed into an all-out rally car by motorsport firm M-Sport
7 Dec 2021
'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'
Dickie Meaden opinion
Opinion

'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'

Meaden might think he’d fallen out of love with cars, but for one thing…
7 Dec 2021
Car pictures of the week
Tolman Peugeot 205 GTI
Peugeot 205 GTi hatchback

Car pictures of the week

In this week’s car pictures from issue 292, we look at the highlights from Adam Towler’s drive in the Tolman Peugeot 205 GTI
3 Dec 2021