BARCELONA - Seat's marketing chief Detlev Schmidt says the Spanish market is his top priority.
'If you are not successful in the home market, you can't be successful in other markets,' he said at the Barcelona auto show earlier this month.
'The home market is the base to export from.'
Since 1992, Seat sales have grown relatively faster in Spain than elsewhere, from 26 percent of total sales to 32 percent.
Schmidt, vice-president for sales and marketing, gave three reasons for the improvement in Spain:
New products that appeal to Spanish buyers
A dealer development program
Seat's Spanish advertising.
Seat had 197 dealers in Spain at the end of 1996, and 68 of them hosted training workshops during the year, with 649 dealer employees participating.
In Europe, Seat has a total of 2,300 full dealers. It awarded 79 Golden Dealership Awards, 13 Platinum and two Diamond awards last year.
Although Schmidt gives credit to Seat's creative advertising, he is proud of cautious spending. 'We spend less per car than the major competitors in Spain,' he said. Seat is No. 3 in the market, behind Renault and Citroen. Ford, Opel and Peugeot are about the same size as Seat, and ranks can change quickly.
'My clear target is to be No. 1 in Spain,' said Schmidt, 'but only if I can make money.'
Since mid-April Spain has had a scrapping incentive that has stimulated the market. Manufacturers have added their own discounts. Scmidt would not name them, but said some competitors offer discounts 'below the variable costs.'
Schmidt has strong views on pricing. He is particularly against Ford's recent practice of selling all body styles and engine options on a car for the same price.
It costs more to make a station wagon or a diesel engine, said Schmidt. So selling them at the same price means overcharging customers who buy the sedan or gasoline engine.