In the year of its 70th anniversary, SEAT has once again demonstrated its ability to reinvent itself to adapt to a context shaped by uncertainty due to the impact of a global pandemic with profound effects on health and the economy. However, despite every adversity, the company has successfully maintained its roadmap to prepare for an electric future. Below are the 20 reasons that 2020 has left us with to believe in all the good things to come.
1. A new driver at the wheel of SEAT and CUPRA
Since last October, the company and its two brands, SEAT and CUPRA, have a new President, Wayne Griffiths, one of the most qualified executives in the Volkswagen Group. The new President took over the position after serving as Vice-president for Sales and Marketing for the last 4 years and will lead the transformation of the company and its brands towards electrification and sustainable mobility.
2. New key appointments in senior management
In the last half of 2020, the SEAT Executive Committee has welcomed two new members: Dr. Werner Tietz in July as Executive Vice-president for Research and Development at SEAT, and Herbert Steiner in November as Vice-president for Production and Logistics.
In addition to these arrivals, the company has appointed Jorge Díez as the new Director of Design and Guillermo Fadda as the new European Sales Director. It has also strengthened the position of Josep Maria Recasens, adding to his duties as Director of Strategy, those of Head of Institutional Relations, and Lucas Casasnovas, Director of SEAT MÓ.
3. The largest investment plan announced to date
In July, SEAT announced its investment plan for the period 2020-2025 with a volume of 5 billion euros. The plan is aimed at R&D projects to develop new models and at equipment and facilities in Martorell, with the aim of taking on new projects, in particular to electrify the range. The goal of the announced plan is to boost the transformation of the automotive sector in Spain, and is a sign of SEAT’s commitment to continue being the largest industrial investor in R&D in the country.
4. A strategic agreement to promote electromobility in Spain
In July, SEAT, Iberdrola and Volkswagen Group España Distribución signed an agreement to promote the creation of a public network of recharging points in Spain for electric vehicles, boost the use of renewable energies, market electric recharging solutions and integrate Iberdrola’s infrastructure into electric vehicle navigation systems. This alliance is a further step in the commitment to make the electric future a reality in Spain.
5. Electrification at SEAT
As an example of the commitment to electrification, this year the electromobility Learning Center (eLC) was launched, a new training centre in new hybrid and electric technologies for SEAT’s more than 15,000 employees. In addition, SEAT has begun construction of the Test Center Energy, a laboratory that will enable the testing of cell, battery and vehicle modules, and which is expected to be operational in 2021. The new Engine Development Centre has also been completed, where engines for SEAT, CUPRA and different brands of the Group are tested, with a special focus on hybrid and electric engines.
6. Electric mobility becomes a reality
Following the launch at the beginning of the year of the Mii electric, the company’s first 100% electric model, and later the SEAT and CUPRA Leon e-HYBRID, the company’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), SEAT continues to expand its range of electric vehicles and has recently announced the start of production of the new Tarraco e-HYBRID, SEAT’s first electrified SUV. In the coming weeks the plug-in hybrid version of the CUPRA Formentor will arrive, and in 2021 the 100% electric CUPRA el-Born.
7. The year of the Leon
SEAT began 2020 with the presentation of the new Leon, for SEAT and CUPRA. The fourth generation of the model, the best-selling car with 2.3 million units sold, required an investment of 1.1 billion euros. The model has reached new levels in terms of connectivity, efficiency, dynamism and safety, which have already earned it such important recognitions as Autobest’s prestigious “Best Buy Car in Europe 2021” and Autobild’s Goldenes Lenkrad.
8. CUPRA’s own range kicks off with the Formentor
After the summer, production of the CUPRA Formentor began, the first vehicle designed and developed exclusively for the brand. This car will be available with seven engines, including plug-in hybrid variants from 2021, and is a key element in the globalisation of the CUPRA brand. With its launch, which accounts for 10% of Martorell’s additional production volume, CUPRA aims to consolidate its position in the main European countries and gain access to other international markets.
9. The SEAT Ateca 2020 evolves the aesthetics of the compact SUV
Following its launch in 2016, the SEAT Ateca has been revamped with a more emotional exterior design and an updated interior. It’s a 100% connected vehicle, as it integrates on-board functions with online services, and connectivity with the outside via SEAT Connect.
10. SEAT MÓ is born: the company raises its stakes on two wheels
Following the launch of the company’s first micromobility vehicle in 2018 and after announcing the creation of a strategic urban mobility business unit last year, SEAT is consolidating its commitment to urban mobility with the creation of the SEAT MÓ business unit. SEAT MÓ aims to offer mobility solutions adapted to the needs of people who live in urban environments. Among its product range, it has presented the new SEAT MÓ eKickScooter 65, and the SEAT MÓ eScooter 125, the first 100% electric SEAT motorbike, which also has a specific model for sharing and subscription services.
11. SEAT MÓ: MÓtosharing in Barcelona
After the presentation of SEAT MÓ, the company rolled out its first motosharing service in Barcelona with 632 eScooters available to the public. Mid-December also saw the start of production of the 125 cc SEAT MÓ eScooter, in collaboration with Barcelona-based manufacturer Silence. The motorbike is already on sale in Spain, and in the first half of 2021 it will be marketed in six other European countries (Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, Austria and Sweden).
12. CUPRA el-Born
In the summer, SEAT confirmed that its first 100% electric model built on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, the el-Born, will be launched as a CUPRA. Under this brand, the vehicle will incorporate a sporty, dynamic new design with cutting-edge technologies, which aims to change the perception of dynamism among electrically powered vehicles. It will be launched in the second half of the year.
13. A home for the CUPRA Tribe
Coinciding with its second anniversary, CUPRA inaugurated the CUPRA Garage, the brand’s new corporate headquarters. The company invested 5.3 million euros in the new home of the CUPRA tribe, whose design is reminiscent of a racing paddock. The building consists of 2,400 square metres and can accommodate a workforce of 200 employees.
14. First CUPRA Garage in Europe
CUPRA is creating its own sales network in which it offers flexible new formats, beyond the classic dealership, to enable customers to experience the brand’s universe. After Mexico City, CUPRA opened its first European CUPRA Garage in Hamburg. This concept of a space to represent the brand combines an exhibition area and a workshop, and uses digital tools such as those in a virtual reality area. Today, CUPRA has more than 500 points of sale, where more than 600 CUPRA Masters guide customers through the brand experience.
15. SEAT reinvents itself to help healthcare centres
Faced with a situation as complex and extraordinary as the health crisis caused by COVID-19, SEAT demonstrated its commitment to society by manufacturing emergency ventilators to help medical centres cope with equipment shortages. A team of 150 professionals worked for weeks to develop a prototype, adapting the motor of a SEAT Leon windscreen wiper. The result was the production of more than 600 emergency ventilators, which were sent to hospitals all over Spain.
16. A safe return to work
SEAT was the first company in Spain to perform PCR tests on its more than 15,000 workers in April and August, to ensure a safe return to work after the spring lockdown and summer break. Thanks to the tests, contact tracing and the various measures put in place to contain the virus, SEAT has managed to maintain its production activity with hardly any transmission within its facilities.
17. A new CASA in Barcelona
This year SEAT opened CASA SEAT, a brand experience centre and socio-cultural meeting point located in the heart of Barcelona. In addition to enabling visitors to interact with SEAT and CUPRA, as well as with SEAT MÓ, projects inspired by mobility and urban culture are also shown. Immersed in the cultural life of Barcelona, CASA SEAT hosts concerts, art and technology exhibitions and other events to support talent.
18. SEAT:CODE, the company’s digital machine
SEAT:CODE, the company’s centre of excellence in software development, also opened its doors this year in the heart of Barcelona, where more than 150 software developers work for the company. In addition, SEAT:CODE launched its first multimodal mobility platform, on which the SEAT MÓ motosharing service in Barcelona operates, and which is also available to third parties. This milestone means that, for the first time, the carmaker has developed and started marketing a software rather than a hardware product.
19. Development Prototype Centre and commitment to 3D printing
The Development Prototype Centre (DPC), located in the heart of the SEAT plant in Martorell and which constitutes the link between the development and production of the cars, also renewed its facilities, with a new 3,000 square metre building where all the processes prior to the manufacture of a future vehicle are unified. This space has virtual reality applications in the new machining facilities and a large area for additive manufacturing projects in the new 3D Printing Lab.
20. 70 years and over 60 awards
In the year in which SEAT turned 70 and once again demonstrated its capacity for reinvention, the company has received more than 60 awards. One of the most recent, and most significant, is Autobest’s “Best Buy Car in Europe 2021”, awarded to the SEAT Leon. In its 1.5 eTSI version, this car also received the “Goldenes Lenkrad” 2020 awarded by Autobild. These recognitions add to the list of others for initiatives such as the emergency ventilators.