SEAT May Soon Become Cupra In Premium Re-brand Move

SEAT May Soon Become Cupra In Premium Re-brand Move

SEAT May Soon Become Cupra In Premium Re-brand Move

Spanish automaker SEAT may soon re-brand as Cupra, taking on the sub-brand’s identity in an upmarket push…

Quite The Transformation 

In automotive terms, brand is everything. A badge can mean more to a car’s identity that an engine, styling or overall performance. So any change to a brand’s identity, the marque, is serious business. Which is why it’s big news that the established Spanish automaker SEAT is considering a complete transformation into its sub-brand Cupra. The plan was first hinted at by Volkswagen Group’s Chairman, Herbert Diess (SEAT is owned by the VW Group). It’s thought that such a move would largely be motivated by greater differentiation between the Group’s vast number of brands and marques; some of which occupy the same segments. As a part of these plans, SEAT may become more upmarket whereas Cezech-based Skoda will become more budget.

Diess himself expressed the view that SEAT’s best hopes for a bright future lie with a more premium identity; distinguishing itself from Volkswagen models in particular. More specifically, he said it’d be best for it to become more of an ’emotional’ brand like Alfa Romeo. As it stands, there are concerns about SEAT’s high operating costs in relation to the price of its cars; in some cases, being much more expensive to assemble whilst selling at a similar price to VW cars. In particular, this concerns the likes of the Ibiza, Leon and Ateca models.

‘Image Sensitive’

Despite his concerns, Diess spoke positively of SEAT’s boss Luca de Meo; who has raised sales to in excess of 500,000 last year. However, he also pointed out that sales in certain European markets, including France and Italy, remained poor. This is something de Meo is aware of himself. He spoke of the challenge of capturing the attention of ‘image sensitive’ customers. He said.  “Seat has put a focus on growing and gaining credibility, but in some markets there is still some rejection of the Seat brand from people who are image sensitive”. He added, “this we can fix, but we need time. Cupra is starting from scratch with something new. We start from a green field, and maybe with that we can attract customers who in other cases might not buy a Seat. Selling those kinds of cars for us is much more profitable. This allows us to increase the conquest of the brand”.

Cupra itself started in the world of motorsport, but has now moved rapidly into the consumer sector. Having moved into a new 2400-square metre HQ, it’s sold over 18,000 vehicles this year alone; an 80% improvement over 2018. The marque is also now looking to churn out a premium EV capable of rivalling the lauded Tesla Model 3. Whether SEAT will one day become Cupra is anyone’s guess. But if VW’s desire is to differentiate between its brands to a greater degree, it makes business sense. After all, it makes little sense to be making both the likes of the Ibiza and the Polo when one or the other will suffice!

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