New VW chief could dump Seat
6 December 2006

New VW group chairman and Autocar award-winner Martin Winkerkorn (right) is considering offloading the underachieving car manufacturer Seat. That’s the word circulating in Europe this morning after an interview that high-level VW board members gave to German industry magazine Automobilwoche recently.

Seat’s plans for future success took a sizeable blow last Friday when the decision was made to build Audi’s new A1-platform, the basis for its new entry-level model due in 2009, not in Seat’s Martorell plant, but in VW’s Brussels facility. Production of the new baby Audi would have been of huge importance to returning Seat to money-making ways; now, it’ll have to find another route back into the black. Having overseen the operations of the troubled Spanish marquee as head of Audi, Winterkorn is believed to have become frustrated with its continuing unprofitability. Outgoing VW chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder opposed the sale of Seat on the grounds that selling it would mean giving away too much of VW’s core technology; current VW brand boss Wolfgang Bernhard is also rumoured to oppose the sale of the marque but, just as Pischetsrieder is no longer a bar to its sale, Bernhard’s rumoured departure from the VW group could remove a strong advocate of the brand.

If the new head of Audi, who is due to be appointed today, can also be persuaded that selling Seat is in VAG’s interests, it’s highly likely that the maker’s days under VW control will be numbered.

Keep an eye on for the announcement of the new boss of Audi later today

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