• May 18th 2010 at 10:01AM
  • 33
Seat Ibiza Sport Tourer – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's no secret that Seat is the dimmest bulb in the Volkswagen classroom. The beleaguered Spanish manufacturer squandered a total of $138 million in the first quarter of this year alone – more than double what the next two least profitable brands in the German manufacturer's lineup lost. In a last-ditch effort to get Seat back on its feet, VW has announced that it will both expand the company's offerings and spread the brand outside of Spain. The plan is the brainchild of James Muir, the company's new CEO as of September of last year.

Many of the problems currently afflicting Seat are due to the fact that Spain's economy has taken a beating during the global recession. Likewise, most of the company's sales come from Southern Europe – an area that hasn't fared well amid the financial crisis. VW hasn't said exactly where the Seat name will be showing up in the near future, but you can bet your lucky underpants it will be somewhere with a little extra money in its pocket.

Likewise, the company didn't say much about what we can expect in terms of new models. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a total of 56 percent of Seat sales come from the Ibiza compact, and Muir says that if the automaker's outlook is to improve, that needs to change.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bring it to the US and sell them in the big cities with sports teams. Have the promotion selling them as PSLs (Personal Seat Licenses), with team logos on the interior fabrics. ;-).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seats are sold in Mexico, now that I live in the US, I wish they were sold here, wouldn't people buy this:

      2.0 L 240 HP 221 lb/ft

      Could be VWs Scion IMHO better styling than VWs. I am not saying I would trade in my A5 for this, but hey :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah I had the mk1 Cupra. Fantastic. The Cupra's and skoda vRS's are much better value and fun than the VW equivalents
      • 5 Years Ago
      May I suggest importing outside Europe? North America comes to mind.
        • 5 Years Ago
        no. there is no way in hell this should come to north america. talk to people who own seat products and get back to us, they're a nightmare.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Seat is already in North America, I see them fairly often down here in socal come up from Mexico. Obviously they aren't sold in the US but Mexico is part of North America. I wouldn't mind them here though. When ever I see a car that isn't sold in the US I take the time to stop and look at it and I can say Seats are nice looking cars in person. Same goes for some of the Renaults and Peugeots that also come up from Mexico.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree somewhat with Nad2244.
        It's not quite a fair comparison, as Europe is a little more nuanced than the US. The playing field can be much more complex.

        In southern Europe, few people buy Skodas, but in Spain, the Seat Ibiza is about as ubiquitous as the Toyota Camry or Corolla is in the US. Easily 75% (if not more) of all cab and fleet sales in Spain go to Seat.

        I'm sure it's the opposite situation further east in countries bordering the Czech Republic where Skodas are well known.

        There's a lot of national pride with these automakers that doesn't exist in any form in the US.

        But that said, because of some of the overlap in model positioning that actually IS similar to the situation with Pontiac, I don't see Seat making a very strong foray into other parts of Europe where Skoda models sell well.
        I think it's much more likely they will try to become a stronger player in South America (where VW is already well established), or other emerging markets where they can position Seat as a new sporty option above the cheapest offerings currently available.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ding ding ding. We have ea shortage of small cars here. Rebadge them as VWs. Sell cheap. Win.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This has been thrown around before. I seem to recall a couple of years ago there was some speculation that VW might consider bringing in SEAT, likely re-badged as some new brand, to serve as their equivalent to Scion or Kia. A less-expensive, more youth-oriented VW. Of course this would probably accomplish little more than eating into VW's current customer base.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Zamafir, you are a knowledgeable enthusist, so using tired clichés is beneath you. It's like saying "American cars can't handle". That might have been true to some extent in th 80's, but it surely isn't the case now (Fords, Caddys and Dodges handle quite well, thank you very much).

        Same goes with Seat, which uses essentially the same hardware under the skin as VW and Audi. The changes come in the looks inside and out, chassis tuning and fine-tuning of exhaust note, steering feel or pedal feel, which is Seat's case is on the sporting side. In premium brands it would be what Bentley does with the Phaeton hardware.

        So if there ever is a reliability issue, it stems from the components shared, meaning that if there's a problem, with, say the 2.0 turbo found in VW GTi and Scirocco, Seat Leon FR, Audi A3 and TT and VW Octavia RS, all models will be affected.

        Same goes with quality control, which meets the stringent VW Europe standards. The only difference, then, is in perceived quality (not durability or fit) with a VW or Audi to justify the 3-15% premium for those brands; Seat is usually positioned 3-6% cheaper than the equivalent VW.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd rather have the Skoda lineup.
      • 5 Years Ago
      SEAT's chief even admitted the company was in deep trouble last week. He talked about the solution coming from Audi Q3 production and possible utilization of VW's new partnership with Suzuki:

      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Seat was positioned as a competitor to Alfa Romeo.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If FoMo plans to import from Spain ..who knows?
      Why is the exchange rate favorable for Spanish imports? Euros are the currency right?
      Nice product.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seat at least looking from North Europe just doesn't make much sense. Ibiza is the one that make sense as it's cheap small car with it's unique own styling and Ibiza is already established name in Europe that's not really competing with VW's other offering.

      Skoda takes everything up from there and Skoda is in fire currently(in a good way). They are well build and many of the cars look better than VW one while costing less(Skoda Superb Combi, Fabia and Octavia). Seat got nothing there and no reason to compete with Skoda.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't they rebadge previous versions of Audis and VWs as new ones come to production, as they've done with the B7 A4? They're scrapping most designs after 3 or 4 years, do a mild update and continue selling them at a much lower cost.
        • 5 Years Ago
        In case you don't know what I'm talking about:

        • 5 Years Ago
        So you want them to build new factories every time a new model comes out? After all, where do you think the new designs are built? Here's a hint: In the same factories that built the old one.

        You can regurgitate an old design for a limited time if you have spare factory capacity, but only to a certain point.
      • 5 Years Ago
      @ Gruv

      To paraphrase a classic internet meme:

      "Yo dawg we heard you like VW, so we put your VW in your Seat so you can VW when you VW"

      How does that make sense?
      You want to rebadge a Seat as a VW, which is already a rebadged VW.

      Why bother? Why not just bring over lower-cost VW here to begin with?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is the Ibiza on par with the Golf/Jetta? Like the Ibiza Sport Tourer way better than the Jetta/Golf wagon.
        • 5 Years Ago
        IIRC, Ibiza is based on the Polo, so it's a bit smaller than the Golf.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It'd be a shame to lose Seat. They've got some really nice looking cars out there. Possibly a little over-priced. Bring the per-unit cost down to Skoda level, while maintaining the sporty image, and you've got yourself a lot more buyers. I'm also not sure that the quality perception people have with VW and even Skoda these days has necessarily transferred to Seat either. At least, not to non-Seat drivers. But a look on the roads in Dublin says to me that a lot of people are still driving Seats until they reach a decent age. Just two days ago I noticed a 1998 Seat Ibiza parked outside my house with learner plates on the windows in remarkable condition. So the quality is licked. The sportiness is licked. The cost may not. And the brand perception may not.

      Also, I think the Exeo might be a bit of a red herring. The old A4 was a great car and all but the Exeo DOES begin to tread on the toes of the VW Passat, Skoda Superb and even the current A4. I haven't seen a single one yet, despite heavy advertising on Irish TV.
      • 5 Years Ago
      when will skoda get the axe
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