PARIS 2010: Brand-building high on agenda at SEAT
'We are doing ok in terms of sales,' said managing director Peter Whinney. 'Last year we had a record market share of 1.5% and this year we are running ahead at 6% but the challenge is to be discovered as a brand.
'We are better known for our actually models but in terms of awareness of the SEAT brand there is still a long way to go.'
It's something that the company is already working on. Marketing communications spend is up 70% this year as SEAT pushes its sponsorship of the Europa League, the singer Shakira and music festivals such as Reading and Leeds.
It's a strategy very much aimed at younger buyers. 'Once people get us on their radar, they like what they see,' added Mr Whinney. 'Awareness is high but not yet at the level we want.
'But we do have probably the youngest model range in Europe, dynamic products, good residual values and low running costs so we are pretty well placed.'
Mr Whinney said there had been a very good reaction to the sporty Paris Show IBe electric concept car, a super compact sports model.
'It shows that environmentally-conscious people can still have fun to drive cars. Young people in particular are very socially responsible, but they still want to have fun.'
In Spain SEAT is working with the national and Barcelona governments to develop a plug-in hybrid model which goes on trial on home turf in 2012.
Mr Whinney added that until then the company had class-leading conventional engines.
'We have an Ibiza model with emissions of just 92g/km, the Leon with 99g/km while the Alhambra MPV is best in class with 143g/km.'