Volkswagen's new leadership wants Seat to be 'young, sporty, desirable, emotional'

Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, says the Seat brand will be positioned as the group's sporty mainstream brand.

As part of a move by Diess to reduce internal competition between the Volkswagen Group's non-luxury brands, Seat will be a sporty complement to the value-focused Skoda marque.

Talking to Automotive News Europe during the company's second quarter earning presentation, Diess said Seat can appeal to younger buyers looking for something sporty, but who don't remember Alfa Romeo's glory years.

"For people our age it is a fantastic brand, but ever since I can remember Alfa has been on the decline," Diess noted. “Ask a 25-35 year old about Alfa, they are at a loss, they have no idea what Alfa is."

The Spanish brand is currently being run by Luca de Meo, who previously headed up Alfa Romeo, and the brand has spent the last few years fleshing out its portfolio, finally adding the Ateca and Arona crossovers to its range.

Earlier this year Seat split off its higher-performance Cupra models and turned it into its own sub-brand.

Seat was last positioned against Alfa Romeo under the leadership of Ferdinand Piech, who was at various times between 1993 and 2015 the group's chairman or CEO.

The Volkswagen Group has tried to buy Alfa Romeo from Fiat Chrysler (FCA) in the past, prompting the Sergio Marchionne, FCA's then-CEO, to tell the press: "As long as I am CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, Mr Piech will never have Alfa Romeo.

"It's hands-off. I told him. I will call him and I will email him."

Since then Fiat Chrysler has invested heavily in Alfa Romeo, giving it a new rear- and all-wheel drive platform, and launching the Giulia and Stelvio in a bid to transform it into a fully-fledged competitor to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.