Many people raised their eyebrows when the Volkswagen Group decided to make Cupra a standalone brand separate from SEAT back in 2018. However, the newcomer is blooming as sales are on the rise and should be further fueled by more products that are in the works. But what about the traditional Spanish brand from Martorell? Wholly owned by VW since 1990, it looks as though Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo faces an uncertain future.
In an interview with Autocar, SEAT chairman and Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer said "we are not killing SEAT. We just need to decide its future." He went on to say the troubled car manufacturer – which saw its sales plummet in Europe by 45 percent in July and 42 percent in August compared to the same months of last year – "is fine until 2028 or 2029." However, it’s unclear what will happen after that.
2020 SEAT Leon
Schäfer told the British magazine that SEAT could be transformed into a mobility brand in the same vein as Renault's newly established Mobilize sub-brand. Going down this road would allow the VW Group to avoid an overlap between the SEAT and Skoda brands, which has cannibalized sales to some extent over the years.
Meanwhile, SEAT's head honcho sees the company as "an entry-level volume brand for young customers," which makes us think of Renault's Dacia but with a more upscale feel. He specified it caters to the European market and remains particularly popular at home in Spain but also in the UK and Austria. As for Cupra, Schäfer told Autocar it won't be chasing volume and will have "sharp positioning" while appealing to a more "rebellious, young audience" than the traditional brand.
News about SEAT has been few and far between whereas Cupra is making the headlines more often these days. It goes to show which of the two brands is getting more attention from its parent company.