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.
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