Seat has postponed plans to launch its own version of the mid-engined VW Bluesport roadster (pictured here in concept form) because of the poor state of the global economy.
Senior Seat executives are keen for VW’s Spanish arm to have a sports car flagship, but aren’t currently confident that there is a business case for it.
“In the long run we need such a car,” Seat’s sales and marketing director, Jan-Henrik Lafrentz, told Autocar, “but as we don’t sell in the US and there isn’t a big market domestically it’s hard to justify. Maybe in five to 10 years' time, but not now.”
A higher priority for the company, according to Lafrentz, is to conquer expanding markets, especially in South America. Seat already sells cars in Mexico, importing them from Spain.
But Seat has plans to expand into Brazil and Argentina with new cars such as a saloon based on the Ibiza and a unique model, based on VW’s forthcoming US-only saloon, that will be built in Tennesse.
Sources say that Seat is currently considering building cars in South America too, most likely at VW’s existing Mexican plant.
Plans are also afoot to expand Seat’s European portfolio. Company insiders claim that development of the Seat-badged Up! city car is well under way. An all-new version of the Alhambra MPV is due next year, as is the Tribu small SUV. And a mid-sized seven-seat Renault Scenic rival will be on sale by 2012.