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SEAT's new SUV model to be produced in the Czech Republic instead of Greater Barcelona

The new SUV model of SEAT, which is part of the Volkwagen Group, will be produced in the Czech Republic rather than in the Martorell plant despite being entirely designed in the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell (Greater Barcelona), according to sources from the German car manufacturer. The company justified the decision because of "lower production costs" at the Czech Skoda plant. The news that the manufacturing of the model will be moved away from Barcelona has come as a blow to the CCOO trade union, which has expressed its regret that the Catalan factory has lost the opportunity to have a secure workload for the coming years. CCOO has suggested that the Martorell plant requires a business plan to ensure the allocation of new models.

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06 June 2014 10:05 PM

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ACN

Martorell (ACN).– The new SUV model of SEAT, which is part of the Volkwagen Group, will be produced in the Czech Republic rather than in the Martorell plant despite being entirely designed in the SEAT Technical Centre in Martorell (Greater Barcelona), according to sources from the German car manufacturer. The company justified the decision because of the "lower production costs in the Czech Republic." The SEAT Volkswagen got approval to include such a vehicle in its range at the end of March. Production of the latest urban SUV model is expected to begin in 2016. Now the CCOO trade union has expressed its regret that the Catalan factory has lost the opportunity to have a secure workload for the coming years. CCOO has suggested that the Martorell plant requires a business plan to ensure the allocation of new models. The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, stated that Seat's future "is not in danger" for having lost the construction of the SUV model. Puig added that "though we have not been granted with the SUV model, earlier we were granted [the construction] of the new Audi Q3 model".


SEAT announced in late March that it is launching the first "urban" SUV, during the presentation of the company's results last year. SEAT Chairman Jürgen Stackmann said the vehicle would be "100%" a SEAT model, designed by engineers at the Technical Centre in Martorell. However at that time Stackmann already admitted that the decision of where the production and manufacturing of the new SUV model would take place was still to be determined by the Volkswagen Group, to which the Spanish brand belongs. The President nonetheless emphasised that the SEAT plant in Martorell was fully prepared to take on the production.

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen AG will make the vehicle production plant in the Czech Republic in order "to accelerate a turnaround in its only unprofitable division", referring to SEAT. The company plans to take advantage of the growing market for these vehicles, which has grown by approximately 40% in the last five years in Europe. Regarding the decision to move production to the Czech Republic, Bloomberg noted that the labour cost per hour of a Czech worker was about €11.50 last year, considerably lower than a Spanish worker (€26.66) or a German employee (€48.40). However, the President of the SEAT Workers Committee in Martorell and member of the UGT trade union, Matias Carnero, had argued in January this year that despite the reduced labour costs in the Czech Republic, the qualifications and experience of the Catalan workers "have nothing in common with Skoda" and therefore lower labour costs would not necessarily translate into lower manufacturing costs. According to trade union representatives, the Catalan factory "is better located, has better infrastructures, has increased productivity and designed new flexibility measures that have yet to be used," ranking it above the Czech Skoda plant.

Volkswagen AG has studied the production of automobiles in China and SEAT has increased its presence in Mexico, Turkey and Algeria "to reduce dependence on Western Europe," the main sales region. Volkswagen nonetheless reiterated its commitment to SEAT last month. "Spain and SEAT and remain essential for our global growth strategy," said Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, in a statement in mid-May. Bloomberg noted that the Spanish production of Volkswagen vehicles and parts increased by 680,000 over the year, at the plants in Martorell, Barcelona, \u200B\u200BEl Prat Pamplona.

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  • SEAT's new SUV model was presented in March (by E. Romagosa)

  • SEAT's new SUV model was presented in March (by E. Romagosa)