Currently reading: Cupra plots rapid electric transition and sales growth in 2021
Launch of hot El-Born EV will coincide with introduction of virtual sales model; CEO plans 100% annual growth

Cupra boss Wayne Griffiths has revealed a bold expansion strategy for the Seat-owned performance brand, targeting a rapid shift to electrification and substantial sales growth in 2021. 

Speaking at a virtual celebration for Cupra’s third anniversary as a standalone brand, Griffiths said its performance has exceeded the expectations laid out at its launch in 2018, achieving double-digit growth (11%) in 2020 - despite the pandemic - and the highest growth rate of any manufacturer in January 2021. 

“This great start has made me very optimistic and determined to press harder in 2021,” said Griffiths. “That’s why we're ambitious and we want to double sales volume from last year.”

Since launching, Cupra has sold 65,000 units globally, and it now has three model lines in dealerships: the Cupra Ateca, Cupra Leon and Formentor. The latter, which launched in 2020, is receiving strong demand, with order banks of up to seven weeks currently. 

Griffiths plans to continue that rapid growth by doubling Cupra’s sales in 2021 and taking its share of Seat group sales from 5% to 10% globally.

“Once we have all the engine variants in the market, we expect to far exceed our initial goal of reaching €1 billion [£865.4 million] turnover,” he said. 

“We have made clear the statement that Cupra is here to stay. I'm personally proud about how our customers - and the media - are embracing the Cupra brand." 

Key to this growth will be the success of Cupra’s new electrified models. There are currently two available plug-in hybrid variants of both the Leon and Formentor - the latter of which is expected to account for 50% of all the model’s sales - and another two, as yet unspecified, PHEVs due this year. 

But more significantly, the electric El-born hot hatchback is due to launch this year. Based on the same MEB architecture as its Volkswagen ID 3 sibling, the El-Born will be capable of up to 310 miles per charge and will embody Cupra’s commitment to performance, with a sub-3.0sec 0-31mph time, aggressive styling and race-inspired interior details. 

The El-Born will help Cupra to meet emissions targets and establish a foothold in new markets where EV uptake is already strong and the necessary infrastructure is more advanced. It will also arrive alongside a radical reinvention of Cupra’s retail model, which aims to combine elements of the online and in-person car-buying experience. 

“The objective is to respond to the demands of the new generation of customers,” said Griffiths, “and ensure a sustainable sales model for the brand and its investors in the future.”

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Cupra aims to have 800 retail sites open by the end of 2022 and will open its third standalone ‘garage’ facility in Munich later this year, following the opening of similar sites in Hamburg and Mexico.

The virtual experience will begin to play a significant role in the brand’s expansion, however, with the new ‘e-garage’ becoming a platform for Cupra owners and fans to meet brand representatives and attend presentations. 

Aftersales boss Lourdes de la Sota said the new service “digital, disruptive and connected, but always with a human touch”. 

Looking ahead, Griffiths reintroduced the bold Tavascan concept and repeated a promise that Cupra is "working hard" to make it a reality. He previously said that he's committed to "the dream" of putting the 302bhp electric performance SUV into production, but he suggested that it won't happen before 2024.


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New 2021 Cupra El-Born is VW Group’s first EV hot hatch​

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Tonrichard 25 February 2021

The El-born looks quite promising. EVs provide a great platform for a hot hatch but weight of batteries presents a challenge to get the handling right. But to take the fight to the Hyundai Ionic 5, Cupra (VW/Seat) will need to sort the software problems that have plagued the ID.3 and redress the slip on quality on recent VW group cars.