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Semiconductor shortage hits car sales in Catalonia but Seat global sales rise 10%

Martorell-based manufacturer's 470,500 vehicles sold still below 574,100 sold in 2019


11 January 2022 07:00 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Car sales in Catalonia fell by 10.5% in 2021 compared to the previous year, with the global semiconductor chip shortage blamed alongside the pandemic, but Martorell-based Seat did manage to sell 10.3% more vehicles worldwide than in 2020.

In total, 110,728 new cars were sold in Catalonia over the last twelve months, according to the business associations Anfac, Faconauto and Ganvam. Sales of motorcycles fell by 5.5% compared to 2020, with Catalonia seeing the biggest drop out of any of Spain's autonomous regions, according to figures from Anesdor.

Across Spain, car sales increased by 1% in 2021, to 859,477 units, with growth driven by electric, hybrid and gas vehicles, up 55%, while diesel and petrol sales fell by 27.4% and 8.4% respectively.

Vehicle industry representatives point to the pandemic and the semiconductor crisis as the main obstacles to growth. Thousands of semiconductor chips are used in the manufacture of new vehicles and their shortage is expected to continue to have an impact in 2022, but there is hope that the arrival of European Union funds and a continuing economic recovery will lead to a better outlook for the sector in 2022.


Seat published its figures for 2021 on Tuesday, reporting some 470,500 vehicles sold worldwide, 10.3% more than in 2020 (426,600), when sales were impacted heavily by the pandemic.

Although last year showed an improvement, the figures are still well below the pre-Covid total of 573,100 vehicles sold in 2019, with the semiconductor chip crisis to blame.

"2021 has not been the year we have been waiting for. After working hard to combat the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, our business has been severely affected by the lack of semiconductors," Seat CEO Wayne Griffiths explained.

One positive for the company in 2021 was a three-fold increase in Cupra sales, driven by the success of the Formentor model, to almost 80,000 vehicles.

41% of Cupra's sales in the last 12 months were for electric vehicles. In fact, sales of Seat's plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles quadrupled in 2021 from 14,700 to 60,600 cars.

"We expect to see a gradual recovery in supplies and a stabilization of vehicle production in 2022, we are optimistic," Griffiths said. "Demand for Seat and Cupra models has returned to pre-pandemic levels, but a lack of semiconductors is frustrating our customers with long delivery times. We will do our best to meet their expectations."

Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, main markets

Germany continues to be the main market for Seat (including Cupra) with 104,100 vehicles sold, 5% less than in 2020 (109,500). It is followed by Spain, with 81,800 vehicles, 11.5% more than the previous year (73,300), and the United Kingdom, with 50,700 vehicles, 11.2% more than in 2020 (45,600). France (31,200 vehicles) and Italy (27,600) complete the top five, with a growth of 14% and 24.6% respectively compared to last year. Seat sales also grew in Mexico (20,900 vehicles, up 39.3%), Turkey (12,700, up 10.3%) and Israel (12,600, up 20.6%).

Martorell production up 9.8%

The Cupra Formentor exceeded expectations, becoming one of the company's best-selling models in 2021 with 54,600 units sold, while sales of Seat models actually decreased by 2% compared to 2020, with 391,200 units sold.

Globally, Seat production increased by 4.2% in 2021 to 423,888 vehicles (406,706 in 2020). Production at the Martorell plant grew by 9.8% in 2021, with 385,200 units of Seat Ibiza, Arona and León, Cupra León and Formentor, and Audi A1 manufactured, compared to 350,850 in 2020.


  • Hybrid models from Seat at Automobile Barcelona, September 30, 2021 (by Laura Pous)

  • Hybrid models from Seat at Automobile Barcelona, September 30, 2021 (by Laura Pous)