Volkswagen group has decided that its Seat brand cannot live on sportiness alone.
The brands core product line will retain sporty styling aimed at Alfa Romeo, but Seats brand image also will encompass utility by offering minivans, station wagons and car-derived vans – and eventually minicars.
We have to position Seat differently, Audi brand group Chairman Martin Winterkorn told German magazine auto motor und sport. Winterkorn heads a group that includes Seat as a junior brand to Audi. The future Ibiza will be the most important new model, a product that will have more color, more light and more agility.
But he said other new products will target practical vehicle segments that Seat had abandoned or previously ignored. The effort follows Seats four-year sales decline and a E62.5 million loss at the Spanish brand in 2005.
We analyzed where Seat was more successful, the FR and Cupra sporty orientation is correct, but we shall not abandon the lower segment, Winterkorn said.
Seat will expand its product lineup. The first step will come this autumn with a station wagon version of the Altea, a new niche for Seat.
In early 2007, Seat will offer a derivative of the Volkswagen Caddy car-derived van, to compete against products like the Citroen Berlingo and Renault Kangoo.
and the Renault Kangoo. That will serve as an entry-level product until a new minicar can be developed, likely not before 2010.
Winterkorn said a concept like the VW Caddy could be successful for Seat At the top of the range Seat will continue to share with VW a large minivan, he said, settling an internal debate over whether Seat should get a version when the vehicle was renewed about 2008.
Seat dealers had insisted they needed the Alhambra large minivan.
Seat will not abandon any of its core segments in the brand repositioning. It will keep the Ibiza and Cordoba in the small car segment, lower-medium Leon and Altea and Toledo in the upper-medium segment - and keep building all core models at the Martorell plant near Barcelona.
We have a plant to build 500,000 units a year and we are not fully using it, Winterkorn said. Seat built about 390,000 units at Martorell last year and got about 15,000 units of the Alhambra from the VW plant in Setubal, Portugal.