Seat is known to be debating the future strategy of the Cupra brand
Hybridisation or full electrification of future Cupra performance models is being debated; UK boss pushes potential of brand
The Seat Cupra brand could launch electrified performance cars in future, as it seeks to stand out from its competitors.
The idea is still at the concept stage but is being debated internally at the firm’s headquarters in Spain and pushed by UK managing director Richard Harrison.
“How we could use the capability of electricity on Cupra is interesting,” said Harrison. “I’d like to see more done with the Cupra and Seat Sport brands, and one interesting opportunity could be for an electric Cupra.
“There are no fully formed plans yet, but I’d be keen to explore the different opportunities between hybrid and full electric. If we did it, we’d pick one or two vehicles and do them properly – Cupra isn’t a badge to put on everything.”
Seat’s global boss Luca de Meo has long talked up his desire to make more of the Cupra brand, to build desirability, customer loyalty and to drive profits. The move to electrification could allow Seat to tap into its relatively low age of buyer – the lowest in the VW Group – and to circumnavigate the fact that it has relatively little motorsport heritage to draw on to underpin its efforts.
“If we did it we’d need to have the debate on whether to go into motorsport to prove the quality of our products, or to let the quality of the products speak for themselves. Tesla has come from nothing to something with no heritage, so it is possible.
“But if we chose the former option, it would be another opportunity to do things a little differently again – there are different types of motorsport now, and it doesn’t have to be about Nurburgring lap records. There are exciting, shareable goals that could capture the imagination of a younger generation of buyers that could prove interesting.
“Whatever we do, though, we won’t just do Cupra for the sake of brand building. There has to be a commercial reason for it.”
Renaultsport has already begun tests on a Zoe RS prototype with a view to putting it on sale at the end of the decade, while Volvo’s Polestar offshoot is also preparing a range of electrified performance cars. A Seat Ateca Cupra is set to join the Seat Leon Cupra in the firm’s line up next year, with electrified Cupras likely to be launched after 2020.