Volkswagen Group's Seat brand reported an operating profit in all three quarters last year following years of losses. The popularity of the Leon and Ibiza cars and the arrival of Seat's first SUV, the Ateca, have given the brand a boost. Seat Design Director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos spoke about the role that design has played in the brand's recent success with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Eric Gallina.
How has design helped Seat achieve increased growth?
The foundation of the new image of Seat started in 2012 with the Leon family. It has been a huge success both in terms of sales and in terms of recognition of the brand. People now know, or are starting to know, what is a Seat.
What is Seat's design strategy?
We are creating what I consider the first phase of the new Seat design language. All the cars we launch from now until 2020 are based on some of the design elements of the 20V20 showcar [Vision 2020 unveiled at the 2015 Geneva auto show], which is an evolution of what we did with the Leon in 2012. We set a target – 2020 – and the next three cars that we launch, will be based on the Leon [design language] but will also integrate elements of the Vision 2020.
The new Ateca has received a lot of positive feedback. Does it represent Seat's new design language?
The Ateca will be the first step in this evolution toward the Vision 2020. We will probably set up another target, maybe in 2026, and then follow the same kind of strategy. What we did with the Ateca was use the inspiration gained from the Leon and translate that DNA into the genetics of an SUV.
What is Seat's design DNA?
There are core pillars we have in our range, especially in the models that you won't see until 2019. First of all, the cars are very healthy in terms of proportions. They have a certain elegance that comes from their simplicity but they also have a certain character. It reflects this idea of movement and precision but also sculpture. This is what we are looking for.