Dynamic blend of German technology and Spanish flair
SEAT, which recently celebrated its 65th year in the market, has a strong history of design, extroverted personality and motorsport successes -- with three world rally championships and two world touring car championships under its belt.
Seat has been part of the Volkswagen Group since 1986. This long-lasting partnership has resulted in a mix of Latin design combined with German quality and technology.
Seat Ireland director Lorenzo Heller aims to make the car brand one of the top 10 in Ireland by 2015.
Lorenzo, who has been working with Seat for the past 10 years, has a passion for the brand. He currently drives a Seat Leon, which he describes as a fun-to-drive and eco-friendly car.
Lorenzo believes it is essential that potential customers get the right brand and product experience to understand how far Seat has evolved.
"This is German engineering with a Spanish flare and stylish twist -- a dynamic combination," he says. "You can only experience it by having a test drive to fully understand what we mean."
Lorenzo has a passion for motor racing, which is mirrored by the brand's sponsorship of Irish racing driver Eoin Murray, who races in the 330 bhp Leon Supercopa.
The recent two world titles in the World Touring Car Championships with TDI engines have shown how innovative Seat can be in terms of technology
Since taking over the reins at Seat Ireland, Lorenzo has set about driving brand awareness and affinity. One approach has been an ambassador programme, which demonstrates the wide target market and also the range that is available.
Current brand ambassadors include Eoin Murray, model Nadia Forde, TV presenters Anna Daly and Aisling O'Loughlin, and Shamrock Rovers star Stephen Rice.
Football is a global platform for the Seat brand, which recently announced it was the main sponsor of the Europa League final, taking place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.
Lorenzo says, "Seat is a huge supporter of soccer on a global scale, so it is fitting that we are the title sponsors of the biggest soccer match ever to take place in Ireland, the Europa League Final."
He adds: "We are delighted and excited to support such an event."
Another of Seat's key tactics is to open new state-of-the-art dealerships across Ireland and reinvigorate the existing network.
Lorenzo feels strongly that the dealerships need to provide a top brand experience by offering a high level of service in an excellent sales environment. This in turn will raise brand awareness and increase customer satisfaction.
The network is a key element of success, together with brand positioning and price.
With an existing 24 dealers, Seat Ireland has increased its market share in 2010 by 2 per cent -- the best result since 2005. Seat is now increasing by 8 per cent versus February 2010, with a market share now standing at 2.2 per cent.
The most popular model is the sporty Seat Ibiza, which is scoring a record performance of 6.8 per cent sales and ranking sixth in its segment. Part of this success is down to the retail finance offer at 4.9 per cent including two years' servicing.
Seat Ireland aims to promote brand affordability rather than pure discounts, as retail finance offers increase customer retention and promote intra-brand migration.
The Seat range comprises cars to suit every need, including the Ibiza, Ibiza ST, Ibiza SC, the Leon, the Altea, the Altea XL, the Exeo, the Exeo ST, and the newest addition to the range, the Alhambra.
Lorenzo has a tough time choosing just one car from the range, so has selected four of his current particular favourites.
He says the new generation Alhambra has the perfect format for a versatile multi-purpose vehicle. In addition to its attractive exterior, the Alhambra is an all-new vehicle developed from the ground up and packed with the latest technology. Now even more functional and featuring greater modular variability and driving comfort, the Seat Alhambra is set to become the new bench-mark in the large passenger van segment.
The Leon Cupra R is the most powerful and spectacular-looking vehicle of the Seat range. It is equipped to the highest level of specification, and driver and passenger safety is one of its main focuses.
The Ibiza ST, the estate version of the Ibiza, is the perfect vehicle for a youthful and sporty lifestyle, combining the brand's strong values. The car has an attractive design which is both dynamic and efficient.
It is practical and easy to use and, possibly most importantly in this climate, financially attainable.
Sunday Independent Supplement