New Seat chief Jürgen Stackmann tells Autocar how he will turn the brand's fortunes around
18 October 2013

Seat will look to become a brand which is "more than just the Ibiza" in order to reverse its fortunes, says new boss Jürgen Stackmann. 

The Seat chairman said the Volkswagen Group’s loss-making Spanish brand is looking to use the new Leon family, as well as expansion in new markets, to turn around last year’s £131 million loss on sales of 321,000 cars.

Seat is suffering because 80 per cent of its sales take place in the depressed European market and, as Spain’s number one brand, it is also suffering significantly from the collapse in its home market. It does, however, have an impressively youthful buyer base, with customers an average ten years younger than Skoda buyers.

“I can’t predict when we will be back in the black, but I aim to make Seat into a solid company,” said Stackmann. He also revealed that Seat was doing well in expanding markets such as Turkey and that sales were up 26 per cent in Germany and 15 per cent in the UK in the first eight months of this year. Seat is also expanding in Mexico, and it has eight dealers in China as part of an exercise to launch the brand in the world’s largest new car market.

“The Leon will become a core Seat model and will eventually match Ibiza sales,” said Stackmann. “The five-door Leon FR is a perfect expression of Seat: dynamic without being too hard. Seat design will make the driver feel younger and more sporting, but we won’t go to extremes. We don’t want to look like some niche brand.”

Stackmann said sales of the new Leon were up 40 per cent this year and that the arrival of the Leon ST estate would help it to push into European fleet sales. “There will be two more years of innovation around the new Leon,” he said. “The next-generation Cupra will amaze you and be a strong contender.” Seat will be a ‘late follower’ in the market for plug-in hybrids, however, with Stackmann placing more faith on compressed natural gas for greener motoring.

Seat’s crossover is still at least two years away, but Stackmann revealed that Seat would continue to build the Mk5 Golf-based Altea and Altea XL MPVs. “The Altea XL is underestimated,” he said. “We should be making more of 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

Join the debate

Comments
11

18 October 2013

Ah, SEAT, VW's Alfa Romeo.... Wasn't that the plan..?

18 October 2013
Darren wrote:

Ah, SEAT, VW's Alfa Romeo.... Wasn't that the plan..?

And the plan has worked - Seat has managed to perform as well in the sales charts as Alfa...

18 October 2013
Orangewheels wrote:

And the plan has worked - Seat has managed to perform as well in the sales charts as Alfa...

SMMT data 2013 year-to-date September:

Alfa - 4,496 (0.25% market share)
SEAT - 35,468 (1.98% market share)

NB Renault on 32k, Suzuki 27k, Mazda 26k...

18 October 2013

This is a pity because this is the least stylistically turgid part of the VW empire.

A34

18 October 2013

In 2006 maybe - it's a Golf from 2 generations ago! Right sized though - I hope Seat update it to the new Leon platform and make hay...

Meanwhile the new Leon ST looks v nice as a Focus estate alternative. Could do with a 1.4TSI DSG option though....

18 October 2013

Obviously sales figures say otherwise, but I always think of the Leon rather than the Ibiza when I think about Seat....

18 October 2013

Seems like we read exactly the same article -"SEAT posts loss; boss says company will be turned around" every two or three years. Only the numbers and the name of the boss change.

Out of interest, when did SEAT last make a profit for VW?

I'm not saying VW's management of the company is at fault here - clearly the dreadful economic conditions in Spain are affecting SEAT's performance - but at some point VW is going to get sick of the Spanish Patient and pull the plug, won't they?

What is the answer? SEATs in China? United States? India/Malaysia? Clearly they have to do something to lessen the brand's dependance on the Iberian Peninsula market.

18 October 2013

Seats biggest problem IMO is VW, their products are being stifled by the parent company to protect sales of its own range, the current Leon is just as good as the Golf, much cheaper, better looking and higher spec. But when they built the last range of vehicles, it was just MPV's of various sizes and names and had no logic.

18 October 2013

... has a lot going for it - more than what's under the bonnet.
Its arguably the best looking and easily the most value for money of the VW lot. It should help Jurgen in turning Seat's fortunes around.

19 October 2013

Given SEAT is 100% owned by VW, any failing of SEAT is a failing of VW/VAG.
VW introduces SEAT to South Africa in the mid 2000s and then withdraws a few years later. VW pulls SEAT from Argentina to make way for Audi an now they talk about finding new markets?
However negative comments aside, SEAT is no Alfa (or Lancia) it's sales are infinitely higher. Nettingham provided the impressive Uk numbers, in Europe's biggest car market Germany, SEAT is a top ten player outselling Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota.
Year to end of September in Germany:-
SEAT 61,885
Alfa 2,695
(Lancia 1,207)
Maybe if VAG gave SEAT factories in China, India, Russia it would have a better chance of matching sister marque Skoda's sales?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals