Seat will put its first SUV into production by 2015 at the latest, company president James Muir has confirmed to Autocar.
The new SUV would be in the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai class, and be previewed as a close-to-production concept at a European motor show “within the next two years”, according to Muir, and it would be on sale “within the next three years”.
The look of the new SUV is expected to be inspired by the IBX concept Seat revealed at the 2011 motor show. That concept, said Muir, was created “to show how our new design language would look on an SUV”.
But while the IBX was very much a concept car, Muir said the next Seat SUV concept would be “a production statement of intent that will inspire you that Seat can make such a car”.
“We will bring an SUV as quickly as we can,” said Muir. “After the concept in the next two years, it will be a short time before it comes to market.”
Muir said the SUV project had been “signed off in principle” by Volkswagen Group bosses, and “investment is already planned”.
He expects annual sales of around 100,000 units for the SUV. Seat’s total sales in 2011 were 353,000 units, although that figure should improve from 2013 with an expanded Leon range.
Muir believes an SUV “is a much better brand fit” for Seat than a four-door saloon, a comment that raises questions over whether the Exeo will be replaced in the future.
A smaller SUV based on the Mii and closely related to a production version of the VW Taigun concept is also on Muir’s “wish list”. “It’s on a white cloud at the moment, but it’s going to happen.”