Volkswagen Group’s struggling Spanish brand, Seat, may be turning the corner after posting its first quarterly profit in seven years last month, but CEO Juergen Stackmann still must overcome big challenges to turn Seat into a consistent money-maker. Among the tasks ahead are successfully joining the hot crossover segment, attracting more women to the male-orientated sporty brand and resuming sales in China. Stackmann discussed Seat’s strategy with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Christiaan Hetzner.
Seat will debut its first compact SUV at the 2016 Geneva auto show. Will you add other SUVs or crossovers?
Our next step is to enter the subcompact crossover segment. Customers love the higher seating position, emotional design, driving dynamics and low fuel consumption of such models. We are working on such a vehicle for Seat. We could use it to showcase the brand’s design and our innovation and connectivity. It’s our next priority since [crossovers] are the trend, but there is no final decision and no fixed timetable.
Will the Vision 2020 midsize SUV unveiled at the Geneva show in March become a production model?
Technically we can develop and build it but we are not yet properly positioned to sell a 4.65-meter long product through our retail network, and our customer base is not yet broad enough. The Leon’s success in shifting the brand’s center of gravity upward in the compact class shows we can accomplish this, but we need time. Let’s say three to five years.