Albeit under a different name.
Cars manufactured by Spanish automaker Seat have always been forbidden fruit in America. It's a shame because it means America has missed out on some excellent performance models like the Cupra versions of the Seat Ibiza and Leon. However, it appears that Seat could finally start selling cars in America – albeit under a different name.
Seat is planning to rebrand itself as a premium automaker in an effort to boost sales and profits. It's part of a wider strategy by Seat's parent company Volkswagen. As part of Seat's rebranding, the automaker wants to tackle new global markets by the middle of the next decade – and North America is one of its new target markets. They may not be branded as Seat models, however, as Autocar reports the automaker could be renamed to Cupra, which was recently launched as a performance sub-brand.
Speaking to Autocar, Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess wants Cupra to be positioned above Volkswagen as a "more emotional premium brand" akin to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Alfa Romeo. The chairman believes this move represents Seat's best chance of long-term survival. Disappointing sales in key European markets such as Italy and France have also put Seat's future direction under scrutiny.
Speaking at the launch of the Cupra division early last year, he said: "Seat has put a focus on growing and gaining credibility, but in some markets there is still some rejection of the Seat brand from people who are image sensitive," Seat and Cupra chairman, Luca de Meo, said at the launch of the Cupra sub-brand.
"This we can fix, but we need time. Cupra is starting from scratch with something new. We start from a green field, and maybe with that we can attract customers who in other cases might not buy a Seat. Selling those kinds of cars for us is much more profitable. This allows us to increase the conquest of the brand."
It isn't clear yet which models will be sold Stateside, but Cupra recently unveiled the electric Tavascan SUV concept that previews a potential Tesla Model 3 rival. A production model hasn't been given the green light yet, but Diess told Autocar that a deal was made with Seat's chairman that "this car would be very close to a production version."