Seat sets sights on overhaul of all its cars

After a year of record operating profits carmaker Seat is planning to update all of its car models to counter suggestions that it might stop making cars carrying the Seat logo.

Refreshed versions of the Arona and Ibiza were revealed at the company’s annual financial results conference, featuring updated front ends and enhanced technology. The Seat Leon will also undergo updates and is set to debut before the end of 2025, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain with a larger battery for a longer electric driving range of around 60 miles.

The lifecycle of the Ateca will be extended with a series of updates.

Looking ahead to beyond 2030, Seat acknowledges the necessity to electrify in order to remain competitive. There have been reports suggesting that the Seat brand could be shut down so that the company can focus more on its profitable Cupra division.

With its sharper styling and sportier brand positioning, Cupra has enabled Volkswagen Group to sell what are effectively the same cars as Seat but at higher list prices

Last year Thomas Schäfer, board member at Volkswagen Group which owns Seat, said it had become ‘prohibitive’ to continue investing in both Seat and Cupra, and that VW Group would back Cupra due to its “far greater” earning potential and growing popularity.

But now the group seems to see a future for both.

Wayne Griffiths, CEO of Seat and Cupra, said this week: “My message is clear, the Seat brand is in great health and will continue to play a key role in meeting our profitable growth in the future. It’s important that Seat gets back to where it belongs.

“On our journey to electrification, we will launch improved plug-in hybrid and fuel-efficient cars throughout the Seat brand until the end of the combustion engine era. We are working to invest in the brand and will update the Ibiza, Arona, Leon and Ateca.”

Griffiths discussed plans to transition Seat into the electric market, using platforms from the VW Group’s upcoming electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Cupra, Seat’s high-performance division, will introduce new models like the Tavascan, Terramar, and Raval. The Cupra Born will also be updated with a sportier version. Facelifted versions of the Cupra Leon and Formentor are expected to be revealed soon.

Griffiths emphasized Cupra’s significance in Seat’s future profitability, noting its role as the primary driver for success and readiness for the next phase with new models.

After facing several challenges in recent years, including the rising cost of raw materials, inflation and the impact of war, supply chain stabilisation in 2023 led to an increase in production and deliveries. Globally, Cupra once again broke records with 230,739 deliveries, up 50.9% compared to 2022 (152.896). The Seat brand, meanwhile, returned to double-digit growth with 288,437 deliveries (2022: 232,696; +24.0%).

Its 2023 operating profit reached a record 625 million euros, rising 592 million euros (2022: 33 million euros). This represents an improvement in return on sales of 4.1 percentage points, from 0.3% to a positive 4.4%. Annual turnover also reached an historic 14.333 billion euros, 31.0% more than 2022 (10.941 billion).

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