Seat brand is a dead end to be replaced by all-electric Cupra

“The future of Seat is Cupra.” Those were the words of VW Brand CEO Thomas Schäfer at the IAA in Munich. The German manager made a story official that had been circulating for a while. The struggling Seat brand will be eclipsed by an all-electric Cupra around 2030. But that doesn’t rule out a new mission for the brand.

Seat will no longer be the mainstream carmaker as we’ve known it. At the IAA in Münich, confirmation has followed that the car brand will be interrupted by the decade’s end. The news broke during an interview from Handelsblatt with the CEO of the VW brand, Thomas Schäfer.

Speedy Cupra

Schäfer also announced that the lifecycles of the current car models will be completed before Seat takes up a new role within the group. Its sporty spin-off Cupra, the fastest-growing brand in Europe, takes over the car business.

It’s unclear what that “different role,” Schäfer called it, will look like. It has been uttered that Seat will become the name for Volkswagen’s mobility solutions, specializing in services for urban areas. E-scooters and microcars might be the future.

But it’s not unimaginable either that Seat becomes Volkswagen’s Dacia. It could be a low-budget offering in developing countries, a segment that the Germans today are handing mainly to the competition. Schäfer also confirmed that this decision had been taken a while ago and that the brand has a long history of loss-making operations.

‘Alfa-Romeo from Spain’

Volkswagen acquired Seat in 1982 as part of its international growth plans. But it never managed to make it as successful as Skoda’s comparable acquisition and subsequent turnover.

Though the brand enjoyed some popularity during the eighties, especially around the Mediterranean region, as cheaper versions of Volkswagen models with comparable build quality, it didn’t prove easy to lift it to the next level.

At the beginning of the century, and during the reign of Ferdinand Pïech, Volkswagen pursued a plan to transform it into an ‘Alfa-Romeo from Spain.’ A plan that didn’t stretch beyond a bunch of spicy and promising concept cars.

A decade later, the brand was closer tied to premium brand Audi. But not in a favorable sense, as it received the assembly line of the outgoing A4, which it produced in a rebadged form. It was like the beginning days in the fifties when the brand assembled Fiat models under license.

Higher margin, more value

With Luca de Meo, a former marketing manager at Alfa Romeo and current boss of Renault, at the helm, the brand found a way out. The Italian boss cut loose the sport badge Cupra from the range, morphing it into a separate brand. This marketing trick, focusing on more appeal, higher-margin models, and stronger value, worked.

Parent company Volkswagen absorbed the strategy and shifted most of its efforts and investments toward Cupra, including a strong electrification plan, sealing Seat’s fate without openly communicating the axe maneuver.

Scrapping the badge doesn’t affect the recent investments of Volkswagen in and around the sites of Seat’s home country, Spain. Martorell. As part of a government-backed scheme, the German car giant injects 10 billion dollars into the existing factories to convert them into an international hub for electric mobility.

The Pamplona plant will assemble the small and affordable ID.2 and its variants. PowerCo, Volkswagen’s battery department, is constructing a gigafactory in Sagunt, near Valencia.


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