2018 has been an exceptional year for SEAT. In these past 12 months, SEAT saw the birth of CUPRA, the company’s first sub-brand, and the launch of the Tarraco, the brand’s new large SUV and flagship model. The year began with record results and the company expects to post historic high sales figures by the end of December. Projects such as Algeria or China are a step forward in the internationalisation strategy of the brand, which is present in over 80 countries.
Furthermore, in 2018 SEAT went full throttle in digitalisation, with major projects in the area of connectivity, and the company’s different initiatives and the characteristics of its cars have earned SEAT more than 60 awards this year. The following 18 milestones of 2018 will go down in the history of SEAT:
SEAT kicked off the year with the best results in its history, with an after tax profit of 281 million euros,sales of 470,000 vehicles and a turnover of more than 9.5 billion euros in 2017. Until September, the financial results confirmed this positive trend. In addition, the company is expected to close the year with the best sales figures in its history, after exceeding the volume of the entire previous year in November, with 492,300 vehicles delivered.
SEAT presented the long-awaited Tarraco, the company’s largest SUV and new brand flagship, in its namesake city of Tarragona. Its name was chosen for the first time by popular vote by more than 146,000 brand enthusiasts who participated in the final stage of the #SEATseekingName initiative.
The Tarraco completes the SUV range together with the Ateca and the Arona and production began in the Wolfsburg plant in mid October. The first units will be sold at the beginning of 2019.
SEAT will remember 2018 as the year that saw the birth of CUPRA, the launch of the Tarraco and the presentation of record sales and financial results.
Synonymous with the ultimate expression of SEAT sportiness, CUPRA was presented as a new sports car brand with its own unique personality, designed to captivate motoring enthusiasts and all those looking for a brand that is original, sophisticated, passionate and sporty.
Its first model, the CUPRA Ateca, has been in the dealer network since October, and its electric racing version, the eTCR, lays the groundwork of new multibrand touring car competition, which will be launched in 2020.
The Chairman of the Volkswagen Group, Dr. Herbert Diess was named Chairman of the SEAT Board of Directors in June. Moreover, SEAT President Luca de Meo has also been the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Volkswagen Group España Distribución since July, making him the maximum representative of the Volkswagen Group in Spain.
Volkswagen Group China, SEAT and JAC partnered to promote the development of electric mobility in China. They signed two strategic agreements in Berlin and Madrid in 2018, whereby SEAT became a partner in the JAC Volkswagen electric mobility joint venture, specifying that the SEAT brand will reach China in 2021 and the three partners will work together on electrifying SEAT vehicles. Furthermore, the cornerstone of the new R&D centre in Hefei has already been laid.
SEAT was designated by the Volkswagen Group to lead the consortium’s growth in North Africa. SEAT has boosted its growth in Algeria by assembling the Arona, the Leon (including its CUPRA version) and the Ateca together with the Ibiza in the Volkswagen Group's plant in Relizane.
Since the plant was inaugurated in 2017, more than 60,000 Volkswagen Golf, Polo, Tiguan, Passat and Caddy; Skoda Octavia, Rapid and Fabia; Audi A3 and Q2, in addition to the SEAT Ibiza, Arona, Leon and Ateca vehicles have been assembled there.
Digitalisation and car connectivity projects go full throttle.
Continuing with the company’s international expansion, SEAT headed to Norway in April, a reference country in new trends and future mobility. With an eCommerce-based distribution format, the company enables users to buy a car 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The platform's simple design and intuitive use make it possible to conclude the purchase transaction in 10 minutes after making five clicks.
After SEAT pioneered the integration of the WAZE cooperative navigation system, it was also the first brand this year to integrate Shazam connectivity in its vehicles, the mobile app that recognises music.
This new step in car connectivity was completed in November with the launch of the virtual voice assistant Amazon Alexa in Spain, Italy and France, as well as the UK and Germany. Alexa enables drivers to optimise their time at the wheel and simplify access to different functions all through voice commands, giving you the ultimate connected car experience.
At the Smart City Expo World Congress held in Barcelona last November, SEAT presented a developed version of its ‘guardian angel’ Cristobal prototype, which includes advanced safety assistants aimed at reducing risks and accidents.
As part of its evolution, Cristobal is now equipped with 5G technology that enables connecting the vehicle with its surroundings (pedestrians and streetscape), a feature that has been tested in collaboration with Telefónica.
At the Congress, the company also showcased the new SEAT eXS powered by Segway, an e-KickScooter that signals SEAT’s first step in its micromobility strategy with the goal of responding to the growing demand for last-mile electric urban mobility.
Since it was created in late 2017, the SEAT Metropolis:Lab Barcelona has been working on developing innovative proposals to enhance urban mobility. Its initial projects are Bus on Demand, an initiative that aims to improve public transport efficiency with a service that adapts to user demands, and ride sharing, an app that enables commuters to connect, giving people who live in the same area the opportunity to commute together.
At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), SEAT announced the creation of XMOBA, an independent company dedicated to developing and testing smart new mobility services. This subsidiary promoted the purchase of Respiro, a pioneering hourly car hire startup that operates in Madrid and works with a pay per use system. Scheduled for release in new cities in the next few years, the purchase of Respiro will help SEAT enter into new channels and diversify its business model.
Dr. Christian Vollmer was named new SEAT Vice-president of Production and Logistics in March. In this phase of digital transformation and commitment to Industry 4.0, he will also be responsible for furthering the initiatives related with environmental sustainability and for the challenges of future mobility, in addition to overseeing production in all of SEAT’s manufacturing centres. Dr. Vollmer's arrival also follows on the incorporation of Dr. Rainer Fessel as director of the Martorell factory.
SEAT received more than 60 awards this year for its vehicles as well as company initiatives.
The Martorell factory, the heart of SEAT, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Around 12,500 people work in Martorell, when combining the factory and the company's central services.
More than 10 million cars of 39 models and different versions have been made here in its 25 years of history. Today, the Martorell factory is a benchmark of Industry 4.0, an engine of growth for employment generation and industrial development, and a plant that is efficient, sustainable and eco-friendly.
The sporty new compact Audi A1 has been made exclusively in the SEAT plant since October and is distributed to all the markets where it is sold, which makes a positive contribution to increasing the plant's export volume, which already stands at over 80%. The Audi A1 is the second premium car made in Spain following the Audi Q3, which also rolled off the assembly line in Martorell.
2018 was an award-winning year for SEAT’s most iconic model, the Ibiza. After concluding 2017 with the ABC Best Car of the Year 2018 award, the most prestigious recognition in Spain's automotive sector, the Ibiza continued to receive awards all year: finalist for Car of the Year 2018, Best Supermini by What Car? (UK), Firmenauto des Jahres 2018 in Germany, Citadine de Réference by La Revue Automobile in France, Best Car of the Year in Catalonia 2018, Best Cars 2018 Motorpress Ibérica award for Best Utilitarian, and the Schibsted Motor Awards prize for Best Small or Compact Car, among others.
The Paris Motor Show was the backdrop for the global launch of the new SEAT Arona TGI, the world's first urban SUV equipped with a hybrid, eco-friendly engine fuelled with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and petrol. Furthermore, SEAT signed partnership agreements with Snam and AFGNV to promote vehicular natural gas and biogas in Italy and France.
In 2018 SEAT celebrated the first anniversary of the CARS healthcare centre which made the company a pioneer in preventive medical services and a paradigm of healthy company.
In addition, SEAT's Healthy Company Scientific Committee is carrying out the MedCARS study to determine the benefits of a healthy lifestyle on the employees and the general public. Moreover, the more than 2,000 employees of the Volkswagen Group in Spain are also benefitting from the Health Services that SEAT provides to all of its workers.