Seat must establish itself as a class leader in key areas, including infotainment, says new boss Luca de Meo
Steve Cropley Autocar
10 December 2015

New Seat boss Luca de Meo believes his company has "a historic opportunity" to lift itself away from the Volkswagen-led mainstream and "become a front-runner in some important areas" as a result of the recent Wolfsburg upheaval.

De Meo, who took command at Seat barely four weeks ago, believes the recent announcement by group chief Matthias Muller that divisional managements should be more devolved in future may allow Seat to be a leader in areas such as infotainment, "rather than just living under the same umbrella" as the rest the group divisions. "I have some ideas already," he said, "but they are only ideas."

For now, though, de Meo is intent on implementing departing boss Jurgen Stackmann's "solid and logical" model and business plans, which are understood to involve introducing two brand new SUV models in the mainstream market. The models will allow Seat access to 80% of the car market, not the present 50%.

"At present we have 1.2% of the market in terms of sales, which makes us pretty well invisible in some of our 70-odd markets," said de Meo. "We need some models that can make 5% or 6% of a segment, to get us on people's shopping lists."

De Meo is confident Seat is close to its long-sought profitability, as a result of "good foundations" laid by his predecessor Stackmann, and Englishman James Muir before that.

He believes the existing plan should continue, more or less unmodified, for the next two or three years. "It would be a little bit weird if I were to start changing our direction after four weeks in the job," he said. "But it is my hope, my dream and my aspiration to find ways to make us unique. In most automotive fields, people are learning by doing at present. This puts us at the same level as everyone else - and we also have access to premier league technology from the wider group."

De Meo also dismissed suggestions that his former Fiat connections might lead him to "do an Alfa Romeo" with Seat - even though that is a connection VW Group patriarch Ferdinand Piech took pains to make some years ago. "When you're talking about branding," said de Meo, "benchmarking yourself against someone else just doesn't work. It means you'll always be second. Our task is to find our own formula. I don't have the answer today, but I intend to work on it."

Our Verdict

Seat Leon 5dr hatch

Seat's third-generation Leon is attractive and capable, but it can't quite reach the benchmark set by the imperious Volkswagen Golf

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Comments
13

10 December 2015
Brave words, but I think beneath the surface VW top brass will still decide Seat's positioning and model strategy within the group, no matter what they're saying in public.

10 December 2015
They will never be allowed to make cars which are equal to or better than the Volkswagens they are based on. Which is a shame, given the capabilities of the underlying hardware.

11 December 2015
Norma Smellons wrote:

They will never be allowed to make cars which are equal to or better than the Volkswagens they are based on. Which is a shame, given the capabilities of the underlying hardware.

They already do, the Leon is superior to the Golf, and the Ibiza is at least equal to the Polo, and both are better looking.

10 December 2015
I dont get why SEAT exists in the VW portfolio at all. Skoda = mainstream. VW = semi premium. Audi = Premium. Bentley = Luxury. Lamborghini = Luxury sports. Bugatti = willy waving. SEAT is supposed to = Sports but this covered by vRS, GTi, RS and so forth within the other brands for normal cars. SEAT could make sense with flashy coupes, convertibles, sports SUV's, but with bog standard hatchbacks with 1.2 Tsi engines?

11 December 2015
Albeit of a different sort. There's class of senior management which prefers making a deal to running a business and all sorts of mergers and acquisitions which don't seem to make sense (and often turn out not to) happen only because the boss wants to be seen to be doing something BIG, likes mixing with bankers and loves to have something to boast about while he's playing golf.

10 December 2015
Well SEAT UK you could start with offering keyless entry and self parking on your cars which is available on the same VAG vehicles (Skoda, VW, Audi). I can get a 1.2 Skoda Octavia in Beige with keyless and self parking toys but not on a 280BHP SEAT Cupra aimed at a younger, sporty, tech market.......

 

 

 

10 December 2015
...with winniethewoo's comment. Tango/Salsa sportscars, Tribu SUV, aspirations to be Alfa... All forgotten. And now this bland/vague corporate 'mission statement' (yawn). Give up on the brand and offset some scandal lossmaking.

TS7

10 December 2015
...can't get beyond the weird glasses, they look as though they haven't got any lenses.

11 December 2015
It always seems like a rather nowhere brand with an extremely silly name. Allowing for the model overlap with Skoda, best to fold the two together and give Skoda more market share and a couple of additional models to sell, notably the Alhambra.

11 December 2015
Its a wonder Seat has even come this far.....which proves something about standing up to the VW sharks against winding it down. With Mathias Muller at the helm, this space could now open up....for De Meo to prove a point !

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