Unequal VW daughters: why does Skoda make sister Seat look so old?

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Why does Skoda make sister Seat look so old??

Unequal VW daughters: why does Skoda make sister Seat look so old?-skoda

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James Muir, CEO of Seat, presented the IBX study on the eve of the Geneva show at the beginning of March 2011. A car that looks very appealing and a hints there is a new vehicle concept from the brand.

Source: dpa / DPA / Uli Deck

Unequal VW daughters: why does Skoda make sister Seat look so old?-unequal

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The Seat IBW from behind with a large tailgate.

Source: AP / DAPD / MARTIAL TREZZINI

Unequal VW daughters: why does Skoda make sister Seat look so old?-make

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The Alhambra is one of Seat’s most popular vehicles. The new model of the family car was shown at the 2011 Geneva exhibition.

Source: dpa / DPA / Martial Trezzini

While Skoda is almost too successful for the VW group, the Spanish brand Seat is still the problem child. But now there should be a course correction.

E.in a few days, then Seat and Skoda will move together. Although only the two German headquarters are moving under one roof, the architectural merger of the two Volkswagen subsidiaries draws attention to two siblings who could hardly be more different. Although they both have very similar histories and joined the group family almost at the same time.

Skoda – the brand will soon be celebrating its 20th birthday under VW management – has risen from a ramshackle state company to a conqueror and has presented better results every year. It was not until 2010 that the Czechs made almost twelve percent plus again and set a new production record with 762,600 cars. In addition, they have long been the strongest import brand in Germany and had a good 130,000 registrations last year. Seat, on the other hand, has been in the VW family for 25 years, remains the problem child. Annual sales for 2010 were 339,500 vehicles. In Germany, with around 50,000 vehicles, the Spaniards did not even sell half as many cars as the Czechs.

Here are the beaming winners, there the dejected losers? However, the sociogram is not that easy to draw. Because even success has its downsides. Skoda had to learn that a year ago when the daughter was even dangerous for the parent company VW and her Passat with cars like the Superb. Wolfsburg called the Czechs back, appointed a new boss in Winfried Vahland and warned them to change course.

The Skoda boss has now initiated this at the Geneva Motor Show – with a sober and clear design study that not only introduces the new design language and the revamped Skoda brand logo. The five-door with the sloping rear also gives a glimpse of the new world model, which is located between Fabia and Octavia. However, it still gets a notchback and loses finesse such as the neat leather seats or the crystal glass in the interior – otherwise the target price of 12,000 euros can hardly be maintained.

Apart from the new model, which is already being traded as the successor to the Felicia, the brand has even more big goals. "

From 2012 we will be bringing a new vehicle every six months, ”says Vahland at the Geneva Motor Show. The round starts at the turn of the year with a Skoda offshoot of the VW small car Up, then the Felicia comes as a sedan and station wagon. It is also time for the successors to Roomster and Octavia, and there is always talk of a larger off-road vehicle.

Vahland has ambitious goals: "We want to double our sales by 2015 and crack the 1.5 million mark. ”And if he has his way, the million should be reached by 2013.

Vahland wants to grow primarily in new markets such as China and India. "Skoda has to become a global brand, ”the Handelsblatt quotes him. At least 60 percent of sales are to be made outside of Europe. Today it is around 40 percent. However, the rise should no longer take place at the expense of the parent company.

So while Vahland almost has to step on the brakes, his colleague James Muir has both feet on the gas. The Briton has been President of Seat for a year and a half and initially only has one goal: "A black zero, I would be happy with that. After that, the profit comes almost all by itself. "

Muir raves about the new design language that his head of design Luc Donckerwolke has sketched out with the IBE and IBX studies. But the way out of the cellar is long and rocky. Because after years of dodging course with ever new orientations and ever new CEOs, the brand image has been completely watered down and the product range has become quite dodgy.

While Skoda was constantly developing in one direction, Seat was sometimes the fiery Spaniard, then the Audi for savers and in between times the cheap family brand. "We lost our profile, ”says Muir self-critically.

The situation in Spain has meanwhile been so bad that VW has allegedly already calculated the recruitment of Seat. "But the market needs a brand like Seat and so does the group, ”says the CEO. Cars from the north are rather cool, functional and conservative. With the Spaniards, the customer finds warmth and emotion without the function suffering from it.

"The French think similarly to Northern Europe as the Germans, the Japanese and the Koreans anyway. Who else besides Seat has this southern warmth? ”Asks Muir. He involuntarily directs the conversation to a brand that should actually scare Seat: Alfa Romeo. Because the Italians have a similar positioning, are allegedly at the top of the wish list of VW patriarch Ferdinand PiĆ«ch and could make Seat completely superfluous in the event of a takeover. "We’re not afraid of Alfa Romeo: First of all, we take care of ourselves and not other brands, ”says Muir.

The Seat boss prefers to look ahead. One wants to learn from the old mistakes. To support this statement, he poses "a grandiose product fireworks ”in prospect. "We’re really stepping on the gas, ”says the President. For the next year he promises three important premieres. A small car like the VW Up Seat will then also be available, the Ibiza, which is still selling strong, is being extensively revised, and with the successor to the Leon, customers can not only marvel at Donckerwolke’s new style, but also buy it for the first time.

In addition, Muir Seat, just like his colleague Vahland, wants to globalize the Skoda brand: "So far we do 90 percent of our business in Europe, ”says Muir. Add to that just a few cars in North Africa, the Middle East and Mexico. That is not enough for the hoped-for upturn. That is why James Muir is flying to the Shanghai Motor Show in April and announces Seat’s debut in China.

Even if his plans work, it will hardly be enough for a quick profit. After all, expansion into new markets and models has to be financed somehow.

Muir achieved a minor success last year with innovations such as the Ibiza, the Audi A4 redesigned as an Exeo and the Alhambra: For the first time in more than 30 years, Seat was market leader again, at least at home. And the Briton is also optimistic for the rest of the way in Barcelona. He also has to: "After all, I’m the first CEO in 25 years to have a pure Seat contract. "

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