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Seat's new car blitz to fuel growth

A blitz of new product launches is set to almost double the size of Seat in the UK market over the next five years.

Despite being on target to achieve a record 36,000 sales this year, Seat UK has been set a target of 60,000 registrations by 2017, AM can reveal.

“We are moving in the right direction, but I see much higher annual volumes as being commensurate with where I think our brand can be in the future.

“With the right products properly positioned in their respective market segments, Seat can do much better and I believe our new product strategy will take us there,” said company president James Muir.

Speaking in Barcelona, Muir said next year’s launch of the Mii city car would be the first of four significant model introductions aimed at revitalising the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish brand with British consumers.

“Like other Seat products, the Mii will represent excellent value when it goes on sale in June with a starting price of around £7,500.

“But I believe we will also make a big impact with a major revamp of the Ibiza at the end of the first quarter – we’re making so many changes I’m regarding it as a completely new car.

“We will follow this with an all-new Toledo that will offer an exceptional amount of space for family transport at a good price, and in the fourth quarter we’ll kick off our new family of Leon models with a five-door car.

"There will also be three-door and wagon versions and this range will usher in a new look for Seat.

“The brand has to move away from being Ibiza-dependent and build volume around new products that are clearly positioned and designed with attractive styling.”

Asked if the five-year plan meant Seat would be expanding its present network of 120 dealers, Muir said: “We’re happy with our partners – what I want is for them to achieve greater revenue without any increase in representation.

"I’m looking to build on a strong, committed and successful network of partners.

“Our team in the UK is doing a great job in expanding Seat, but our dealers still don’t have a sustainable economic business model. They need more throughput.”

Said Seat UK director Peter Wyhinny: “Our sales have grown by 10% this year in a market down by 5%.

"This will be our third consecutive year of growth, so we’re on course to achieving our aim of increasing our market share from 1.9% to 3% over the next five years.”

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Seat will be targeting its eighth year of uninterrupted growth this year, after breaking through the 50,000 sales barrier for the first time.

Sales were up 18% to 53,512, close behind Honda and Mini, while sales in January 2015 put the firm ahead of the two rival brands.

Retail sales in 2015 were up nearly 25% to 29,901 and fleet sales leapt 11% to 23,611.

To maintain momentum, a near corporate identify is to be rolled out across the network, which will be backed by a focus on winning customer praise after a two-year drubbing in the Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction poll.

Seat was placed bottom, leading the manufacturer to claim it had 'let our dealers down'.

Rather than point the finger at dealers, Seat says it hasn't engaged with them enough and will make that a priority in the coming years.

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