SEAT SUV a priority for new boss

SEAT IBX front
23 Jul, 2013 9:43am Jack Rix

New SEAT Chairman is interested in an SUV but rules out a sports car

The new Chairman of SEAT, Jurgen Stackmann, has confirmed that an SUV is high on his list of priorities, with the new model likely to arrive in 2015.

"The upcoming trend is definitely that SUVs will play a role," Stackmann told Auto Express. "Is an SUV an interesting model for SEAT? Yes, of course."

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Expected to share its MQB underpinnings with the new Leon - Auto Express' current car of the year - and previewed by the IBX concept from 2011, the SEAT SUV will be similar in size to the VW Tiguan. It will effectively form a fourth member of the Leon family, which already includes three-door, five-door and ST estate versions.

SEAT's SUV plans don't stop there either. The pint-sized VW Taigun has already been confirmed for a 2016 introduction, and like the VW up! it's based on, rebadged Skoda and SEAT spin offs are considered a given.

One area Stackmann is showing little interest in is sports cars - something that seemed inevitable when the VW Bluesport project was still on the table. "SEAT is not a manufacturer of sports cars, it's not a niche manufacturer," Stackmann explained.

For the time being Stackmann's focus will be on growing SEAT's market share in Europe, before tackling emerging markets around the world. "Europe is our home turf, get stuff sorted around yourself then you can move on with a lot of good momentum," he said.

And SEAT is already moving in the right direction in 2013, despite the market as a whole shrinking in size. In Western Europe sales so far this year have grown by 10.6 per cent, against a market contracting by 6.6 per cent, while global sales are up by 11.5 per cent compared to last year.

There's good new for SEAT in its home market of Spain, too, with sales up 8.2 per cent giving them a nine per cent market share, keeping them in the number one spot. In the UK (the only market in Europe currently on the rise) SEAT sales are booming with 19,764 cars sold in the first half of 2013 - that's a 15.7 per cent rise compared to the first half of 2012.