Perhaps many of you have seen this coming since Cupra became a standalone brand, but it’s sad to confirm that SEAT as we know it will be retired. The Volkswagen Group has announced the Spanish marque will stop making cars at the end of the life cycle of current-generation models. Speaking with Autocar at the 2023 IAA Mobility in Munich, the automotive conglomerate’s CEO Thomas Schäfer said “a different role” is planned for the Martorell-based marque.
What could that be? SEAT stands for “Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo” (Spanish Touring Automobiles Company) but with automobiles out of the equation, the future is unclear. It could become a mobility company in the same vein as Renault’s Mobilize. In fact, SEAT already has the MÓ lineup of electric scooters. Meanwhile, current cars will remain in production for several years.
However, Autocar estimates the upcoming update for the Leon compact hatchback and wagon could mark the demise of the SEAT-badged versions. In other words, the VW Group could sell the 2024 Leon facelift strictly as a Cupra, but nothing is official yet.
When asked about what the future has in store for SEAT, Schäfer said “the future of SEAT is Cupra.” He went on to mention the VW Group will “invest strongly in Cupra… this will ramp up.” The VW Group CEO defended the radical decision by saying customers have warmed up to Cupra, so much so that it’s the fastest-growing brand across Europe.
In a sad coincidence, SEAT started making cars 70 years ago as the 1400 first rolled off the assembly line back in 1953. It wasn’t until 1986 that the Spanish government sold the brand to the Volkswagen Group.
Fast forward to 2023,
SEAT Cupra is not only working on updates for its existing cars but it’s planning to expand the lineup with the Terramar, a small crossover mechanically related to the next-generation Audi Q3. Come 2025, the DarkRebel concept will become an entry-level EV positioned below the Born, joining the electric lineup alongside the zero-emission Tavascan crossover.