News - Seat
Still no Seat for Australia
VW’s Spanish subsidiary has other priorities as product-led recovery begins
9 Mar 2012
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in Geneva
SEAT will not return to Australia in the foreseeable future, despite the company’s biggest new-model influx in its 52-year history.
According to company chairman James Muir, the Spanish subsidiary of Volkswagen has to concentrate on re-establishing itself in Europe after years of floundering sales in the wake of increased competition and difficult economic times.
From a high of almost 525,000 units in 2000, production of Seats slipped dramatically to just over 307,000 vehicles just nine years later, before recovering slightly to about 356,000 units last year.
Most customers come from Europe, though the brand is also active in some parts of Africa, The Americas and Asia.
Mr Muir is hoping for a product-led recovery to seal Seat’s long-term survival, beginning with the Volkswagen Up-based Mii sub-B city car that was previewed last October and shown at the Geneva motor show in production form this week.
Left: Seat Ibiza. Below: Seat chairman James Muir.
Also due in the next 12 months are the production version of the fourth-generation Toledo five-door hatchback – previewed at the Geneva show as a concept and loosely based on the current VW Polo architecture – a facelifted Ibiza light car and a Mk3 Leon small car in coupe, hatch and wagon guises thought to have been previewed by the IBE Concept car of 2010.
The result means that a renewed Australian market assault will not happen in the foreseeable future.
“No, not yet, but we would love to one day,” Mr Muir told GoAuto in Geneva.
“We are launching four new products in one year, which is more than Seat’s ever done in its history.
“We are embarking on a huge product offensive to broaden our portfolio, enhance the appeal of the brand to consumers and to get a sustainable footprint in the marketplace.”
Asked if Australia will ever figure in Seat’s plans in the future, Mr Muir said that a comeback opportunity might present itself in a few years.
“We should be, but it’s not yet on the radar,” he said. “We have a lot of homework to work out.
“Australia’s a good market, an interesting market, and it could be something we could look at down the line.
“But it’s all a question of priorities. At Seat we are re-engineering the company, and we can’t do everything at once.”
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