Seat to be given ‘different role’ as focus shifts to Cupra

Published: 04 September 2023

► Seat’s present and future won’t look the same
► Cupra is the way forward for making EVs
► Seat SA chairman Thomas Schafer says Seat will get ‘different role’

Seat is going to continue as a brand, as long as there are combustion cars – and it’ll likely continue to exist in some form after that too. That’s essentially what’s been said by Cupra and Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths at the 2023 IAA Munich motor show.

Responding to recent reports about the Seat brand’s possible demise, Griffith’s said ‘Seat will continue in the future – and as certainly as long as there are combustion cars. The future of SEAT in a post combustion world? In an electric world? That’s still under discussion. And I say under discussion – there’s no decision being made.’

That sentiment was echoed by VW brand boss and Seat SA chairman of the board, Thomas Schafer.

‘The future of Seat is Cupra,’ he said to us during an interview at the motor show; ‘we decided that a long time ago.’

‘We have some good Seat products on the road like Ibiza and Leon – they’ll be moving on until they’re phased out. But we’re investing strongly in Cupra and we have a Cupra line-up that will ramp up over the next few years now. The earning capabilities with Cupra are much higher than with Seat,’ Schafer adds.

‘The company will still remain, but we will probably find a different role for it – we’re not shutting it down or anything like that, but investing into cars in that space [that Seat occupies] makes no sense – Cupra is the better way.’

And that plan seems to be working: Cupra is the fastest-growing brand in Europe at the moment, with Schafer even pointing out that its sales are larger than Alfa Romeo or Polestar. Models like the Tavascan EV, Terramar plug-in hybrid SUV and ID.2-based Raval electric supermini are on the way. The brand has even been able to create wild concept cars like the DarkRebel (pictured below).

Seat, meanwhile, has been left to wilt. The model range is ageing, with no signs of replacement; the last ‘new’ Seat cars launched were extremely mild Arona and Ibiza facelifts in 2022.

‘Seat as a brand has always struggled to find a relevant identity within VW,’ says industry data provider JATO’s senior analyst Felipe Munoz. ‘Based on the sales figures, it’s proving to be the right thing to do.’ 

But this doesn’t mean Seat is dying completely. It’s long been discussed that Seat can turn into a ‘mobility brand’, selling smaller mobility devices like scooters – with the MO scooter (pictured above) just the start. ‘We’re still going to carry on with Seat, the brand name will remain,’ says Schafer, ‘but we can’t invest in both Seat and Cupra streams, Cupra is the better option.

‘But we’ve got a plan for Seat where it stays put.’

We’ll have to see where that plan takes the Spanish brand.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches