According to British auto media Autocar, Volkswagen Group's Seat brand will withdraw from the passenger car market and be replaced by the Cupra brand.
It is understood that the existing Seat models will continue to be produced until 2030, but the brand will eventually exit the passenger car market and complete the transformation in the future. At the Munich Auto Show, the chairman of the West Elite brand confirmed that West Elite will no longer produce cars in the future, and will subsequently withdraw from the automobile manufacturing market and be completely replaced by the Cupra brand. But while Seat is about to exit the passenger car market, that doesn't mean the end of the brand. According to the report, West will retain the name after delisting, and in the future the company may turn to other vehicles and mobility solutions, such as electric scooters and other new vehicles.
In place of Cupra, Europe's fastest-growing car brand, the chairman of the Seat brand said it was not cost-effective to invest in both the Seat brand and Cupra brand because Cupra had much greater profit potential, so Volkswagen Group would accelerate its investment in Cupra.
The Seat brand may not be familiar to the post-90s or post-00s generation because it lost to China in early 2014. SEAT was once Spain's largest car company, founded in Barcelona in 1950. In 1983, Volkswagen Group acquired most of the shares of Seat and became a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group. In the following decades, Seat's products shared parts with Volkswagen models, which also made Seat comparable to Volkswagen brand in technology level. Su Weiming, director of Volkswagen China and executive vice president of Volkswagen China, also said bluntly: "Seat has the backing of Volkswagen Group, which will bring resource sharing, so the Seat brand is not starting from scratch."
Shortly after Skoda announced its domestic production in China in 2006, Erich Schmidt, then chairman of the management board of SEAT, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, also intended to launch the domestic production plan of SEAT brand. At that time, FAW-Volkswagen suppliers discussed cooperation with SEAT brand, but Schmidt stepped down soon, and the domestic planning of SEAT was put on hold.
In 2012, under the promotion of Su Weiming, in March of the same year, Seattle Automobile officially entered the Chinese market and sold in China by means of import. According to the planning of Volkswagen Group, Seattle brand mainly focuses on high-performance sports market, and the target consumers are positioned at young consumers. However, its products have not been recognized by domestic consumers after being launched. According to the data, the sales volume of Seattle in China from 2012 to 2013 was 2200 and 1100 respectively. Due to poor sales volume, it finally withdrew from the Chinese market at the beginning of 2014, becoming the shortest-lived foreign brand in the Chinese market.
"Auto Industry Concern" believes that it is expected that West will lose China. Although West has the technical support of Volkswagen brand, it is "misplaced" with the market whether it is the introduction of the first model, the price system of the model or the brand positioning. Leon, the first model introduced after the West Elite brand entered the Chinese market, was built on the Volkswagen PQ35 platform. At that time, the price range was 243,900 - 294,600 yuan, which was 60,000 yuan higher than that of the benchmark Golf GTI (129,800 - 229,800 yuan). In addition, its positioning as a racing performance "small steel gun" made it unable to integrate into the mainstream consumer group. In addition, LEON is the second generation model of the car series, which has been on sale in Europe since 2005. The first model is too old to make the car lack product power, and the price is relatively high, which eventually leads to its missing the best window period.
Time came to 2018. In July of this year, Volkswagen China, Jianghuai Automobile and West Elite signed a memorandum of understanding, hoping that West Elite brand could enter the joint venture system by participating in Jianghuai Volkswagen. In November of the same year, the three parties signed a memorandum of understanding in Spain to jointly develop an electric vehicle platform for the global market for the production of JAC Volkswagen models. In addition, JAC Volkswagen needs to introduce the SEAT brand by 2021 and jointly carry out electric development. In May 2019, the three parties formally signed an agreement, which further confirmed the strategic layout of West's entry into the Chinese market and clarified that the West brand would be introduced into China in the next 2 to 3 years. However, with Volkswagen's capital increase to Jiangqi Group, Jianghuai Volkswagen has become Volkswagen Anhui, which holds 75% of the shares, so the domestic projects of Xiyate have been shelved.
In May 2020, Volkswagen Group publicly stated that it would reconsider the entry-level small electric vehicle family plan, while Seattle would withdraw from the entry-level electric vehicle development project. It is understood that the tram project withdrawn by Seat is called MEB Entry development project, which aims to develop alternative products for Volkswagen e-Up, Seat Mii Electric and Skoda Citigo-e iV, priced at about 20,000 euros for entry-level electric vehicles. At that time, Volkswagen Group said: "The withdrawal of the Seattle project has something to do with the delay of Seattle's entry into China, when the cooperation between Volkswagen and Jianghuai Automobile will no longer be meaningful."
In the car market competition is already in full swing competition, Seattle choose to withdraw from the passenger car market may also be reasonable. At present, the last update of the official micro-blog of Seat Auto stayed on February 3, 2013, and there has been no update since then.
Data show that "Cupra" was originally a performance department of Seat, and later developed from a performance department of Seat to a brand that made its own unique models. In addition to the Cupra Formentor model, the Cupra brand will also launch entry-level concept cars called Cupra Tavascan and Cupra Urban Rebel, as well as an electric sports car called Cupra DarkRebel. At the 2023 Munich Auto Show, Cupra Tavascan was officially unveiled. The car is based on Volkswagen MEB platform. Volkswagen officials said Cupra Tavascan may be mass-produced by Volkswagen Anhui within this year and sold to European markets from 2024.
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