Money-losing Volkswagen AG subsidiary Seat expects to see a strong rise in its new-car sales this year, brand boss James Muir told Automotive News Europe.
"We want to increase our 340,000 unit sales from last year – by 8 to 10 percent – thanks to existing models. We aim to sell 45,000 units of the Ibiza ST (station wagon) this year. And the Alhambra already is well above plan so we expect a full-year volume of 20,000 units. This proves that our brand is gaining strength," said Muir, who took over as head of the Spanish automaker in 2009.
Seat expects further growth in 2012, which is when it will start a new-model offensive. "We will launch four new cars: the new Leon, a totally new entry-level model, a four-door sedan and a major Ibiza face-lift."
To meet the rising demand, Seat plans to boost the size of its work force. "We employ 13,500 people globally and have to start recruiting again. Before the end of the year, we will hire 300 to 800 new employees," Muir said.
He said that increase is very significant in the automaker's home market of Spain, where the unemployment rate is 20 percent.
Seat is pursuing even more ambitious goals as part of parent VW Group's Strategy 2018. By that year Muir wants Seat's global unit sales to more than double to 800,000 units, and he wants the automaker to achieve a 15 percent return on investment. Seat reported a 311 million euro loss in 2010. Seat Chairman Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz says the automaker will post a profit again in 2013.