Seat is one of the UK’s leading car manufacturers. But it wasn’t always like that. 30 years ago, they didn’t even exist – at least, not in the eye of the British public. At its heart, the Seat brand has always been Spanish, founded in Spain in 1950. Today, Seat is wholly owned by the Volkswagen Audi Group, and since 2000, their sales have skyrocketed, with the brand benefiting from increased exposure globally.
So what suits them?
Seat’s first partnership was with Fiat, the Italian automaker. At the time Fiat enjoyed great success in Spain and Italy, and Seat only really happened because of them – Seat was founded a year and a half after six of the country’s major banks signed an agreement with Fiat that was an alliance contract, which stated Fiat had to enter into partnerships with allies Spain, in order to boost the Spanish car manufacturing industry.
The first Seat produced was the Seat 1400 in 1953; it turned out to be a commercial success, and the company’s factory and workforce grew significantly. At the time, Seat was enjoying success in its home country, but they longed for something better. Bigger. More useful.
In 1967, Seat reached an agreement with Fiat on its licensing contract, which allowed the company to form an international distribution network. Seat entered the export market in 1969, and it was around this time that the brand began to grow.
In the 1980s, the differences between Fiat and Seat began to show – as the two companies grew, personalities clashed, and Seat looked for someone else to direct them. Thus, the partnership between Seat and Fiat ended abruptly in 1982, much to the shock of the auto industry. In the same year, a new potential partnership emerged with Volkswagenwerk AG. Volkswagenwerk AG wants to partner with Seat to better penetrate the Spanish and Italian markets – its leader, Dr. Cal Horst Hahn, got his wish in 1982, and Seat partnered with Volkswagen.
The partnership is still ongoing today.
Now, Seat is a global brand. Their cars are in over 10 different countries, and they produce some of the best affordable vehicles in the world. As much as Volkswagen helped Seat, Seat helped Volkswagen – without Seat, the German automaker would not be in the extraordinary position it is today, and it could come at even greater expense – Seat may have partnered with someone else.
Bristol Street Motors Ibiza seats is another great example of a car from Seat – it is one of the finest hatchbacks on the market today.
The Volkswagen Audi Group now consists of Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ducati, Scania and MAN.
When Volkswagen partnered with Seat, they let the company be who they were and kept their brand philosophy – ultimately, what worked for them in Spain worked for them globally. They just need a partner to take them to the next level.