Having unique character might be good for enthusiasts, but it's not so good for the bottom line, and Martin Winterkorn is more concerned about the latter. That's why the CEO of Volkswagen AG is planning on remaking its struggling Seat brand in a new mold.
Although not offered in the North American market, overseas buyers know Seat by the "auto emocion" moniker, positioning the Spanish carmaker as the group's sportier subsidiary offering more aggressive-looking models compared to the more traditional images of the Volkswagen and Skoda divisions (Hmm, sounds like the European version of Pontiac). Unfortunately, that strategy hasn't seemed to pay off for Seat, and to keep it in the black, Winterkorn is ordering a change of strategy that involves appealing to a wider customer base and cutting ten percent of its workforce.
We can't help but wonder what Seat will have to offer if it's brand image is tossed aside. But treading on each other's turf seems to be the strategy du jour at Volkswagen group, where VWs go upmarket to compete with Audis and the corporate structure includes three ultra-premium brands. Whether Winterkorn's strategy pays off remains to be seen.