At the launch of Seat’s first shopping mall store at Lakeside in Essex, Harrison said that the Volkswagen-owned marque has made strides forward just one year after the group began investing into its range, facilities and research and development.
“We’re like the kid who’s got their first job and is finally contributing to the household,” he told Autocar. “It’s been happening for about a year and a half since the investment began.”
Harrison explained that models such as the Seat Leon and eagerly anticipated Seat Ateca SUV have acted as catalysts for this improvement. The brand is now on course to report its highest profits ever of around £85 million - a dramatic change that follows eight years of loss making.
Skoda enjoyed a similar turnaround of success following its acquisition by the Volkswagen Group in 1991. The Czech brand delivered more than one million cars to customers last year, breaking all of its previous records, showing that its image problem of the 20th century has been almost entirely been eradicated.
But Harrison believes Seat’s stronger starting position means his brand could do even better in the long term. “Seat hasn’t been given much attention in the past, but now this is our chance to really take off,” he continued. “Seat was already in a good position [with regards to image], and with the Ateca and Arona on the way, we’re really excited.”
The Arona, a new Nissan Juke-rivalling crossover, is confirmed for launch in December 2017. It follows the recently launched Ateca SUV and an all-new Ibiza, which is due in July. Harrison wouldn’t confirm if an Ateca Cupra was on the way, despite recent sightings of a development car, but he did suggest more hot models were due.
New Lakeside store