SEAT has set up a new sea link which will operate monthly between the ports of Barcelona and Guangzhou and Tianjin. This is the first vehicle transport link between Spain and China

SEAT has set up a new sea link which will operate monthly between the ports of Barcelona and Guangzhou and Tianjin. This is the first vehicle transport link between Spain and China

The FAW Volkswagen joint venture is about to launch SEAT in China. The Spanish firm's cars are being introduced with premium pricing; a risky strategy.

The first Leóns were sent from Spain to China in January, with the cars now being readied for a national roll-out that is set to begin in March. Only the upscale, FR and Cupra sports model grades will be offered in the early stages. The smaller Ibiza range is set to follow later in 2012. These cars will also be sourced from Spain.

FAW Volkswagen's forthcoming Foshan plant in Guangdong province is expected to be the source of the first locally-made SEAT vehicles: the next León should roll off the same line as the replacements for today's Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf from 2013. All three cars will use the Volkswagen Group's MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten: Modular Transverse Matrix) architecture - the new A3 will be the first model on this platform.

Construction work on the Foshan facility started in late 2010. It will be a complete production facility with press shop, body shop, paint shop and assembly unit. The whole complex will extend over 170 hectares and employ some 4,000 workers.

Speculation suggests that an SUV for SEAT might also be made by FAW Volkswagen; logically it would be based upon the Audi Q3. This would either be at Foshan, or else at the existing Changchun facility in Jilin province. The new 4x4 model is also set to be made alongside the Q3 at SEAT's Martorell base in Spain.