• Mar 14th 2007 at 7:29PM
  • 8

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.

[Source: Just-Auto]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      The SEAT Leon is far better looking than any VW sports coupe put out these days. The Altea is also far more interesting than the Golf. The problem is that VW keeps these cars penned in Spain. Americans would buy a Leon over the boring looking (never changing) VW's Golf, GTI, Rabbit? What the heck is the difference. VW also sells their Skoda in Spain, and their crappy VWs. They cannibalize each other to no end. Germans can make cars, they just can't sell them. They need some Dutch with trading in their genes over in Wolfsburg.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Dumb, dumb, and dumber. That's VW and its products.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bill: that would be- dumb, dumber, dumbest.
      • 8 Years Ago
      NOAH -- have you looked at the Seats? I would say Saab or Subaru (excluding the wart hog Tribeca) is closer to the Seat image than Pontiac. (OK, a less ugly Aztec could be a Seat)
      And I don't see any way at all to discuss VWs vs Seats without bringing Skoda into the article -- they all have to co-exist and sell within the European market, though Seat is more Southern, Skoda more Northern -- all these cars are VW based.
      There is something good there to be worked out with better market placement.
      • 8 Years Ago

      "...appealing to a wider customer base and cutting 10% of it's workforce."

      I'm not quite sure how one is DIRECTLY related to the other as a fix...unless that 10% all worked in marketing. Seriously, when will it finally dawn on Winterkorn that there are too many variations of the same basic theme, being sold by VW? What SHOULD work in Germany doesn't always work in other markets.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree 100% with #4 - Leon aside, every model looks nearly identical. The previous generation Toledo was a far more attractive design - wish they'd gone evolutionary instead of revolutionary.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "They need some Dutch with trading in their genes over in Wolfsburg."

      Judging by the fact that VW still keeps selling the Beetle over here is proof enough that they can basically sell anything to anyone.
      • 8 Years Ago
      SEAT's problem is blindingly obvious to me - the Leon, Toledo, Altea, Altea XL and now this Freetrack are pretty much identical, even if the Leon is easily the best looker there.

      Marketing several cars at the same demographic is ridiculous. I think SEAT are almost trying too hard to execute too many cars out of one package.

      The Leon is the starter model, but for a bit more space you could have an Altea, but then there is the XL which is a little bit longer, or the Toledo which is somewhere in between. Add the Freetrack and buyers won't be able to tell their vehicle apart! So you have five different models all within a couple of inches of each other.

      Keep the Leon, replace the Toledo with a sleek family saloon, make the Altea a seven-seater and launch an individual 4x4. If only it were that simple...
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