Seat CEO calls on Spain to promote electric cars as company posts €625m profit

Wayne Griffiths criticizes lack of political stability in Spain and "straitjacket" of EU regulations 

Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths
Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths / Laura Pous

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

March 21, 2024 02:12 PM

March 21, 2024 09:22 PM

The CEO of Barcelona-based car manufacturer Seat has called on the Spanish government to do homework in promoting electric vehicles.   

Investments and jobs are at stake, Wayne Griffiths warned at a press conference in the Catalan capital on Thursday. 

Griffiths confirmed record financial results for the company, with a profit of €625 million in 2023, but also took the opportunity to warn that the "excess" of EU regulation is becoming a "straightjacket" for the sector.  

He also raised concerns about the lack of "political stability and institutional normality" in Spain. 

"We are gambling with our future by investing more than €10 billion, and at the moment less than 5% of sales are pure electric cars," he warned. 

Wayne Griffiths, CEO of Seat

'Number don't lie' 

"We are complying – investing in and developing electric vehicles and our factories. We are ready, but the market is not, and that is the problem," Griffiths said. 

The CEO of Seat and Cupra called on the Spanish government to change tax regulations to "incentivize" people to buy electric cars. He also asked them to work to improve the network of charging points, one of the "big doubts" buyers have. 

"Now is the time to make decisions," Griffiths said. "Investments are at stake, jobs are at stake, this is serious and we must take it seriously," he insisted. 

"The numbers don't lie," Griffiths said, pointing out that in 2023, 22% of cars sold in Europe were electric, compared to 12% in Spain. "And so far this year we are even worse, only 11.5% of those sold in Spain are electric and less than 5% are fully electric," he said. 

Despite this, Griffiths defended the company's commitment to electrification, emphasizing that when you live in Catalonia, which is suffering from an extreme drought, it is easy to see that you need to contribute to the decarbonization of the car industry. 

Financial results 

Seat confirmed a record profit of €625 million in 2023, up €592 million compared to €33 million in 2022.  

During the past year, Seat delivered 519,175 cars, up 34.6% on 385,592 in 2022, mainly due to supply chain improvements. The Cupra brand was responsible for 230,739 of those, and the Seat brand for 288,437 cars. 

Future plans 

Griffiths confirmed that in September Seat will begin converting its Martorell plant, located just outside Barcelona, to be able to manufacture electric cars. 

There will not, however, be a 100% electric Seat because "now is not the time, it would not be profitable."  

Instead, Seat will focus on the launch of plug-in hybrid cars and improved fuel-efficient cars, until gas and diesel are phased out. The Arona and Ibiza models will be renewed in 2025 and, in the coming months, a new version of the Seat León and an update of the Ateca will be released.