Who will win the race between Seat and Cupra?

Volkswagen Group Chairman Herbert Diess (left) and Seat Chairman Wayne Griffiths want to push the electric brand Cupra in particular. A bad sign for an older sister’s seat? Pictures: seat

The best way to see it is with the first electric model. agreement was born It was once planned as a seat. But when the more elegant twin of the VW ID.3 rolls out onto the road, the Cupra badge adorns the radiator grille and other design elements. Cobra was once known only to fanatics Car enthusiasts, because those vehicles were no less than sporty versions of the otherwise tame Northern Spaniards. In contrast, Hunters made a curve like Seat Leon Cupra Or Ibiza Cobra was in a good mood in everyday life and had a lot of strength for it.

Meanwhile, the northern Spanish GTI counterpart has risen with the benevolence of the Wolfsburg Group managers to become an independent electric brand. When the seat is given a plug, there’s also the new logo, reminiscent of tennis star Rafael Nadal’s Nike sports kit. But the winner of the Spanish series was under contract not with Seat for years, but with the Korean competitor Kia.

Seat fights to survive

But that’s not why SEAT in the Volkswagen Group has been in strong winds for so long. Group management under Herbert Diess had wanted to sell Seat for years, but since there were no tasty offers from abroad and no worthwhile inquiries from China in particular, one had to deal with unsatisfactory numbers. Since the creation of the technical brand Cupra under former CEO Luca de Meo, the traditional Spanish manufacturer, officially operating under the name Seat SA, has been interested in nothing less than just survival.

It seems that the future belongs only to the Cupra brand, because as soon as a new model came to market, it was called Cupra, not Seat. “The sustainable future viability of our company is closely linked to the growth of CupraWayne Griffiths, Seat SA Chairman and CEO, Cupra, makes no secret of his preferences, “We see our new brand as a lever to increase profitability and need to use all of our skills to make it continue to grow.”

The chips crisis and the epidemic frustrate the outcome

Expired 2021 was a tough year compared to many competitors. Affected by the ongoing pandemic and semiconductor crisis, Seat SA has sold 470,500 vehicles worldwide – an increase of 10.3 percent over 2020. In addition, sales of hybrid and electric vehicles quadrupled last year from 14,700 to 60,600 vehicles. Cupra tripled its sales, reaching a volume of 79,300 cars thanks in particular to Formentor. More than 40 percent of Cupra sales were electric vehicles, but hardly any electric models because the release of the previous Seat Lborn has been delayed several times.

subordinate Semiconductor shortage It significantly reduced production volumes and had a negative impact on both sales and operating results, so after subtracting a minus of 418 million euros in 2020, there was another minus of 371 million euros. The bottom line is a loss of €256 million (2020: minus €194 million). Sales only jumped to 9256 million euros (plus 5.4 percent) and average sales revenue per vehicle was 16,850 euros per car, nearly 480 euros higher than in 2020 – notably because the Cobra models earn more due to For their high positions and dealers had little to give any discounts last year.

“2021 was not the year we had hoped for”Wayne Griffith looks back, “After stubbornly grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, our business has been severely affected by the shortage of semiconductors. Demand for Seat and Cupra products has returned to pre-pandemic levels, The shortage of semiconductors is thus frustrating our customers with long delivery times.”

Cobra does not attack only in Europe

And there is still a long way to go before the launch of the new Cobra in 2024: a 4.50m electric SUV with a plug-and-light hybrid engine being produced in Hungary. With an electric range of up to 100km, you should get people to want plug-in hybrids if it’s not too late then because of the repealed subsidies. The crossover is one of four new models aimed at expanding the Cupra’s portfolio in terms of size and profits. The Tavascan, as the dynamic twin of the VW ID.4 / ID.5, should also be exciting. An electric city model with the working title Urban Rebel to follow in 2025 – again as the Electric Cupra and Mii should be a thing of the past by then.

This year, Cupra wants to double its turnover, sales network and turnover to five billion euros. But unlike SEAT, which has been selling most of its cars in Germany, Spain and former European Union member Great Britain for years, the Cupra branch has bigger things in mind — including expansion to Australia. “Australia is a young market and a young brand like Cobra fits right in. Consumers in Australia are looking for new brands and the disposable income for the middle class is relatively high. We are convinced that Cobra can be successful here”We hope, says Griffiths.

Years ago, the launch of SEAT in China for the short-term market was not a start despite optimistic expectations. Since then, the Spaniards have focused on Europe – including England. At the main plant in Martorell as well as SEAT and CupRA models The Audi A1 is also currently being manufactured, which will not have a successor. But the semiconductor shortage has put a huge strain on numbers here as well, so only about 70 percent of production was used in 2021. After all, Seat SA production at the plant near Barcelona rose 9.8 percent to 385,200 units of Seat models. Ibiza, Arona, Leon, Formentor and Audi A1.

These are the flagship models of Seat SA

In the Cupra, the Formentor was the best-selling car with more than 54,600 units and exceeded expectations with a model mix share of 70 percent. Due to a late market launch in November, only 3,300 units of the electric Cupra Born were delivered. Not surprisingly, the largest market for the Cobra is Germany with nearly 31,000 registered vehicles – nearly 40 percent of global sales. It is followed by Spain (11,000), Great Britain (7700), Italy (6,200), and France (4,100). The SEAT brand sold a total of 391,200 cars worldwide in 2021 – a 2% decrease compared to 2020, which can be attributed not only to a shortage of semiconductors but also to a lack of new models. Bestsellers in the group: Seat Arona (106.900), Ibiza (95800) and Golf Twin Leon (87700). Also for SEAT the main market was Germany. From January to December 2021, more than 73,000 cars were sold. Elsewhere: Spain (70,800), Great Britain (43,000), France (27,100) and Italy (21,500).

One looks in vain at the new models that promise large volumes and corresponding returns, because all the important new products bear the Cupra brand. Most important: Not only Wayne Griffiths, but also CEO of the Spain-leaning group, Herbert Diess, gives the Cobra without beating the bush preference. Mexico is already on its way, and Australia is about to follow suit, and a young and cheeky brand with plenty of energy can also be imagined extending strength at the end of the decade to regions in Asia or South and North America. Meanwhile, Dess never tires of stressing that the seat shouldn’t be sacrificed for the sake of the Cobra. In a post on LinkedIn The group president comments on the future of the two Spanish brands: “To be clear: the Cupra will not replace the Seat, but it will help make it more profitable.”

What are SEAT e-mobility plans?

In addition to the new vehicles, the Spanish Volkswagen Group brand should be all about electric mobility of the future. A battery cell factory second to none is planned near Valencia. This plant should have an annual production capacity of 40 GWh and provide the total volume of the plants in Martorell and Pamplona. By 2030, the Sagunto site is expected to employ more than 3,000 people. Construction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023 and production is scheduled to start in 2026.

“In Valencia, we will build nothing less than next-generation cell production: a standard plant in which a modern Volkswagen unit cell is rolled off the assembly line.”Thomas Schmol, Chief Technology Officer and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Seat SA, explained, “At the same time, it must be supplied with renewable energy to enable sustainable battery production.”

The Gigafactory is part of a massive investment package, CEO Diess assures: “An investment of ten billion euros will electrify Spain and the second largest car manufacturer in Europe, one Set up a massive battery plant in Sagunto, enable electric vehicle production at Martorell and Pamplona plants and build a comprehensive supplier ecosystem.” According to Seat and Volkswagen, the target financial volume is the largest single industrial investment in the history of Spain.

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