Seat Ready To Reinvent Itself, Could Be Rebranded As Cupra, Launch In North America

Seat already tried its luck at the premium market last decade when they took the Audi A4 B7 and turned it into the Exeo. Unfortunately for them, the Exeo was far from a commercial success, with only 70,688 units sold from 2008 to 2016, according to CarSalesBase.

However, it seems that the Spanish automaker might be on to something even more revolutionary than just rebadging a premium compact car from a sister brand: completely reinventing itself. Autocar reports that Seat could even drop its name altogether and replace it with that of the newly-established Cupra performance sub-brand.

The publication quotes VW chairman Herbert Diess, who hinted the possible approach on the sidelines of the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, last month. Diess said that Seat’s best chance of surviving in the long term is to be positioned above Volkswagen’s Passenger Car division as a more premium brand, something similar to FCA’s Alfa Romeo, which is competing against the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus and Audi.

Also Read: Cupra To Launch Seven Models By 2021, Including Bespoke Crossover

The main reason of the potential radical decision is the fact that Seat still hasn’t established itself in the way it wants in western markets, like France and Italy, in spite of the a successful last year, with more than 500,000 vehicles sold.

At the launch of the Cupra sub-brand in 2018, the Chairman of the two Spanish auto firms, Luca de Meo, said:

“Seat has put a focus on growing and gaining credibility, but in some markets, there is still some rejection of the Seat brand from people who are image sensitive. This we can fix, but we need time. Cupra is starting from scratch with something new. We start from a green field, and maybe with that we can attract customers who in other cases might not buy a Seat. Selling those kinds of cars for us is much more profitable. This allows us to increase the conquest of the brand.”

If they go ahead with this plan, then Seat (Cupra) might enter new markets, and North America is believed to be on the list, with the first cars set to land on this side of the Atlantic Ocean by 2025.

Note: Cupra Tavascan electric concept pictured

more photos...
  • Julien Lachemoi

    It does make sense I think, because right now Seat, Skoda and VW (and even some Audi) are too close to each other in term of product.

    • xrnzaaas

      While making Seat more premium makes a lot of sense turning Skoda into a more budget brand doesn’t, at least from the customer’s perspective. Skoda is in a good place right now offering good quality, spacious and well equipped cars for less money than VW.

      • Сафиуллинь-Мухамед Рамазанов

        Agree

  • WalthamDan

    Intriguing design

  • Hoe

    That would explain some design elements of the Tavascan

  • McFly

    Yes, why not rebrand the whole thing? I don’t think the Seat brand is super strong except regionally. In any case, I don’t see the point in using the Seat and Cupra brands on the same markets.

    • Giannis Antypas

      Seat’s core market isn’t Spain as you would expect. It is Germany.
      Of course Seat has strong sales in Spain, but it also has in the UK which is its thrd strongest market.

      In August Seat sold in Europe more cars than Citroen, Hyundai, Kia, Fiat, Nissan, Mistubishi, Honda etc.

  • ok, it looks good, but wouldn’t this step on Audi’s Etron feet?

    and between mass electrification, and continued ramifigations from dieselgate VW really doesn’t have room for infighting right now…

  • designer_dick

    If they’re planning to emulate Alfa Romeo, does that mean they’re going to invest €5bn to turn SEAT into a brand which manufactures badly made, unreliable cars, and struggles to move over 60,000 cars a year in Europe? Doesn’t sound like a good investment.

    • Giannis Antypas

      Exactly. SEAT will mark this year new record sales numbers up to almost 600,000 cars,
      after consecutive record saes in the previous decade,
      profitability and above average reliability indexes.
      Alfa romeo isn’t actually the paradigm for any success .

  • DM

    Cars are only getting more and more expensive and several brands want to go upmarket so I don’t see the point in offering yet another “luxury” brand. Since Skoda is not offered in the U.S., I think Seat is a perfect opportunity to target young first time car buyers who might go to the used car market if they can’t get a decent new vehicle for a fair price.

  • Smith

    Well, VW did a great job with their new VW logo and R logo so why not let them spend hundreds of millions on another waste of time re-branding exercise. They have more money than sense like the $80 billion spent on the MBQ platform development that should have cost 80 million max. Waste, Waste, Waste.

  • Javier Bl

    They could´ve done that with Walter de´Silva, now with they chinese looking cars it´s going to be impossible.

  • Rimas Kurtinaitis

    We need to judge this endeavour by the cars to be produced after the new Golf is announced. This gen is based on the old strategy.

  • love the grill and the look of this car.

  • Giannis Antypas

    You are contradicting yourself: Seat can succeed the same way Skoda did, ie from scratch.

    And you are wrong too by saying Seat failed in repositioning its brand value ,
    because Seat didn’t even try in the past to show off an upmarket feel,

    in fact Seat didn’t even invest in having a halo car in their tage, unlike Skoda, VW and Audi.

  • WITH THAT GAPING MOUTH IT COULD SCOOP UP PEDESTRIANS. WE REALLY DON’T NEED ANY MORE CAR COMPANIES GIVING US BASICALLY THE SAME THING IN AMERICA.

  • MarkoS

    I would Love to see Seat in the USA! Bring it as Seat though, Cupra needs to be a trim level, like GTI and R.

  • SavetheCamaro

    Why not spin off Cupra as its own brand once there’s enough demand for these cars instead of giving SEAT an unecessary rename. I don’t really think Cupra will be ready for the US anytime soon given the fact that Porsche, Lamborghini, and Audi already serve as VW’s upmarket sect in North America.

  • MarketAndChurch

    How many luxury brands does VW need?

    For the US, they need to be premium electric cars because just like Europeans generally have no interest in buying non-European cars, Americans only want to buy American, Japanese, South Korean mainstream brands, and German luxury brands. Unless… they plan on pulling a Kia/Hyundai, and can be more “expressive,” design/lifestyle brand to VW’s safe-conservative styling.

    But even then, they’ll probably struggle. The American market hates Mazda for some reason and I consider Mazda’s to have much better products then SEAT. If they don’t provide something that the American market doesn’t have, they’ll be pushed aside for Honda’s and Subaru’s, brands that don’t necessarily offering anything new and exciting, but have a prestige and loyal following that don’t switch brands no matter what else is out there.

  • MarketAndChurch

    It needs a design language that isn’t corporate VW-spec. VW’s attempt to VW-ize their entire portfolio even makes its way into the Lamborghini Urus, and I’m even putting aside obvious examples such as the Bentley Bentayga. Unless of course they want to be budget-Audi’s, with premium VW/Audi design for Honda/Toyota level prices.

  • Wandering_Spirit

    In Italy it is associated to cheap cars because it was considered a sub-brand of FIAT decades ago. This despite the major jump in quality and performances. The rebranding might actually help in this case. Even though i’d just leave the Cupra name for sport models as it has always been. Those built an aura and renown by themselves within the industry. I wouldn’t mix them with the more general models.

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