SEAT officially began selling its most popular car in the world’s largest market on Saturday 20 April, coinciding with the opening of Auto Shanghai 2013.
The Ibiza is the best-selling and most-exported Spanish car in history, and one of the most successful models of its segment in the whole of Europe. From start of production in 1984, SEAT has sold 4.8 million Ibiza vehicles, exporting 69 per cent of them to other markets where the brand has a presence – mainly Germany, France and Italy.
In the UK the Ibiza is consistently SEAT’s best-selling car, only falling behind once, in 2007, when it was eclipsed by the Leon. In 2012, SEAT sold 17,786 Ibiza models in the UK – its second best year ever.
All three versions of the Ibiza will arrive in China: the sporty compact three-door SC, the practical and elegant Ibiza ST estate, and the dynamic and universal five-door Ibiza. Two trims will be available – Style and FR – with engines ranging from 105 PS to 150 PS.
At the beginning of 2014 SEAT will also market the new Leon in China, though it is available to order now – the Leon is actually the star of the SEAT stand at Auto Shanghai 2013. The award-winning Alhambra MPV and the Ibiza Cupra will be added to the SEAT range before the Leon in China, both arriving during the second half of 2013.
Weiming Soh, member of the Board of Volkswagen Group China responsible for Sales and Marketing, highlighted the presentation of the Spanish brand at Auto Shanghai 2013, declaring that “we can now truly say that SEAT is in China”.
“Over the next 12 months SEAT will roll out a wide-ranging product offensive,” he said, adding that “the basis for growth will be the Ibiza, the brand’s most successful model in the world. We are convinced that the attractive combination of design and technology in our vehicles will seduce our demanding Chinese customers.”
During SEAT’s presentation at Auto Shanghai, Dr. Mathias Rabe, SEAT Executive Vice-President for R&D, introduced the new Leon SC to the press, underscoring the fact that the car “is not only an excellent vehicle in terms of technology, but is also a design icon. The Leon has all the ingredients to be a success in China”.
Dr Rabe added that “with the greatest model offensive in the brand’s history, with the youngest product line-up, and with the further development of our market presence, we are working on an exciting future for SEAT – in China and globally”.
First year in China
SEAT is celebrating the first anniversary of the beginning of sales in China at Auto Shanghai. During this time, the Spanish brand has marketed almost 3,000 vehicles, all of them the second-generation Leon, and already has 12 dealerships in some of the country’s major cities, after opening four points of sale in the second half of 2012.
Additionally, SEAT is also showing the brand’s new logo for the first time in Asia, which it premiered at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.
Sales grow in first quarter
Despite a significant downturn in car sales in the main European markets as a result of the economic crisis, SEAT managed to post an 8.7 per cent improvement in worldwide deliveries to customers in the first quarter of 2013.
The Spanish brand has begun to reap the rewards of the new vehicles launched in 2012. SEAT enjoyed its greatest increases in Germany (26.9 per cent), Spain (7.5 per cent), United Kingdom (5.2 per cent), and Mexico (7.7 per cent) as well as North Africa and the Middle East, where growth was 57.4 per cent. Thus SEAT sales outside Europe have shot up by 37.2 per cent, accounting for 19.9 per cent of all vehicles delivered during the first quarter.