DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Car rejection claims 'totally false,' Seat CEO says

"No one rejects the car," Seat CEO Luca de Meo told the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin.
Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Seat CEO Luca de Meo says claims that a growing number of people are rejecting car ownership are "totally false."

Seat's research has found that by 2025 the car will be the primary mode of transportation for 60 percent of people and that just one out of 10 people are contemplating giving up their car in the near future.

"No one rejects the car," he told the Automobilwoche Congress in Berlin on Wednesday. Automobilwoche is a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.

De Meo added that even the staunchest young car hater becomes a car owner once a vehicle becomes affordable and once the person starts a family.

Seat's research also found that millennials, who are supposed to be the leaders of the anti-car movement, are going to account for 40 percent of global car sales in the next 10 years.

He also pointed out that the decline in young car owners coincides with there being a smaller pool of people of that age to purchase a vehicle than there was in the 1960s and 1970s.

He mentioned that car ownership among young people took a hit during the global financial crisis of 2008-2010 because it was too expensive to get a license and maintain a car during the downturn. Europe's recovery has led to an increase in the number of young people who are getting their driver's licenses, de Meo said.

CO2 pressure

When asked how Seat will deal with tougher CO2 rules announced by the European Commission on Wednesday, de Meo acknowledged that while all automakers will "feel the pressure," volume brands such as Seat face an additional challenge.

"We need to select the technology that our customers can afford," he said. "I can't do an Ibiza fuel cell that costs 50,000 euros. I won't be able to sell that. But I'm confident we will find a way to succeed."

Seat will debut its first electric vehicle in 2020, de Meo said, adding that the model will be underpinned by parent Volkswagen Group's new MEB architecture.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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