1 million units a year. That’s going to be the minimum volume necessary for car makers to survive, if you believe SEAT boss James Muir. His struggling brand sold just 320,000 cars last year, and their exposure is largely limited to economically ill countries in the sunny areas of Europe.
TTAC readers know that this site has an unhealthy fascination with low-cost cars. It’s not entirely unjustified, what with the segment booming in recession-plagued Europe and the fact that low-cost vehicles are cannibalizing the sales of larger, more conventional vehicles.
Like the broader debt crisis in Europe, Volkswagen’s weak link has its origins in Spain. According to Reuters, Seat has incurred losses of $1 billion since 2008, and has been profitable only once over the past decade.
TTAC commentator cacon writes:
Hello Sajeev,I’m a long time reader, but not much of a poster. Anyway, I currently own a 2009 SEAT Leon (bought new, I’m from Mexico if you wonder how I got this car), which is basically a 5th gen VW Golf in drag, 1.8 TSI engine and 6 speed manual, 32k km in the odometer (about 20k miles) almost 100% of city stop and go traffic. Currently, there’s nothing wrong with the car, but today I took it to the dealership for the vehicle emissions tests (all good) and looking at all the services that they provide I found this: Engine Carbon Build Up Cleaning with Hydrogen, so I ask the service representative what it was, in he basically told me that a machine is connected to the fuel system of the car and they feed it with hydrogen and keep the car running for about half an hour, and that should remove all the carbon build ups in the system.
Reading this and other forums I learned about the propensity of major carbon build in the valves, regarding the direct injected engines, so I found this interesting. Googling this cleaning system, I rapidly found about it: OxyHydrogen Engine Carbon Cleaning, although I just barely read about using it in scooter engines.
Then it came to me!! Ask Master Sajeev about it!! So I’m wondering if you ever heard of this system and if it’s really effective in removing carbon build ups, or if it is a bad idea to ever think about it. Dealership charges about $50 to perform this service by the way….Saludos desde México!!
I will be moving to Poland with my wife and baby son in July. We will need a car, and trying to calculate value is tough for me, knowing very little about the Polish market.
I don’t know how much we intend on driving, but probably the occasional couple hundred mile trip on the weekend. I would like to keep my purchase price below 5,000 dollars and have something that is easy to fix where I can maybe take it to the guy down the street who operates out of his house’s garage, and not be too afraid of the guy not being able to get parts, not having too many special tools, etc.
The other aspect of European cars is the use of natural gas. It looks like “lpg” is big in Poland as many of the cars I checked out on allegro.pl have the natural gas option. Does this add to the complexity of maintenance? Will this provide more value per mile than a diesel engine?
The car has to be relatively safe, and a wagon with the room would fit our style as a growing family. There seem to be a lot of 10+ year old German cars that can be had pretty cheaply (allegro.pl). So far I like the Mercedes and BMW wagons from the early nineties. But something tells me that a 5 year old Honda Jazz would be a much smarter choice even if it might cost more upfront.
I’m skipping the Pacific Northworst 24 Hours of LeMons race, so that I can attend this weekend’s Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. I headed over to the mountain earlier today to drive the course, scout out good camera spots, and check out teams wrenching on their cars in motel parking lots. (Read More…)
How many times had I written that Volkswagen’s sicklish SEAT will come to China? I had to peruse Google to find out. For more than two years, SEAT’s impending arrival in the Middle Kingdom had been floated, and then, like clockwork, the denials followed. So with a good deal of “yeah sure, it has been tried before” do we read the story in Autocar that “the Spanish marque will exhibit for the first time at next month’s Shanghai Motor Show and expects to be selling cars in China from early in 2012.” (Read More…)
Whenever TTAC took GM to task for branding run amok and excessive platform sharing, the example of Volkswagen has always been the key counterfactual. With seven brands available in Europe, the Volkswagen-Audi group is the continental GM, always looking for another way to repackage a pedestrian FWD platform. The only difference is that VW has actually been growing. But Wolfsburg’s brand profligacy is starting to bear some GM-style bitter fruit. Skoda has been surprisingly strong of late, actually making problems for the Volkswagen brand in certain markets. Seat, on the other hand, is not doing so well. With only one factory, at Martorell, near Barcelona, Seat has always been a slightly niche player, offering older VW designs with some Pontiac-style “emotional” styling flair and a sportier image. The problem now, as Seat CEO James Muir tells The WSJ [sub], is that
The brand really is too small for this plant
Running at only 60 percent of its 500,000 unit capacity, Seat is too small for its lone plant. As a result, VW is launching a last-ditch effort to save its dying brand.
When we reported Chinese rumors that Veedub might open a factory in Southern China to make up for its lack of exposure and market share down south, we wondered “which of their two Chinese joint venture partners will get the new plant.” If the latest rumors are true, all options are wide open. It might even be a new joint venture partner. According to Guangzhou Daily (via Gasgoo) Volkswagen could bring its ill-fated SEAT brand to China.
We’ll know more when VW will announce its “South Strategy” at the 2009 Guangzhou auto show next week. If they do.