Labate: "The thinking behind creating the new brand was dominated by the objective to conquest a new target audience"

Labate: "The thinking behind creating the new brand was dominated by the objective to conquest a new target audience"

We caught up with Antonino Labate, director of strategy, business development and operations at Cupra, Seat's newly spun off performance-minded sister brand. He discusses the genesis of the brand, the thinking behind launching with an SUV and how Cupra could develop in the future.

What is the thinking behind splitting Cupra into a separate brand?

"The thinking behind creating the new brand was dominated by the objective to conquest a new target audience, and there are a lot of reasons why… there's a lot of technology inside the group we can leverage and there is a lot of talent available that can create a new dimension of sportiness and individualisation – this is the main target of Cupra."

One of the first cars you're producing is the Ateca SUV – not traditionally a sporty type of car – so how did you come to that decision?

"We started with the Ateca because it's the model that signed a change inside Seat, the SUV is a growing segment and we want to conquest new customers, this is the principal reason.

"Underneath, we think this car is in a unique spot in its segment. With 300hp, with the new seven speed gearbox and so on, it really is something in between the mass market the high end. We believe this is the right model to start this adventure."

The Leon and the Ateca are Seat based models. Will that stay the plan going forward or will Cupra try to carve out its own niche?

"At the moment the main strategy is to use Seat's range to make special Cupra cars. I'm open to the idea of having a dedicated Cupra model but I think it's too early to talk about this."

"At the moment the main strategy is to use Seat's range to make special Cupra cars. I'm open to the idea of having a dedicated Cupra model but I think it's too early to talk about this."

You can't miss all the electric cars at Geneva, do you see a route for Cupra to move towards electrification?

"Yes, we already have an example with the Leon e-Racer. With this, we can show you our idea of how we can capture Cupra's sportiness in the future. First we work on how the brand is born then we need to work on that. We have a clear destination but we'll get there step by step."

Another clear trend at Geneva is autonomous vehicles. Obviously Cupra is very driver focused so how so you see autonomy affecting Cupra going forward?

"Autonomous driving is something that would not completely fit with the passion we want to transmit when driving our cars. But everything is evolving and we don't know if, in the future, we might take advantage of some functions of autonomy to offer a specific feature."

Could you tell us a little about the new Cupra badge?

"It's more than a badge for us, it's a logo. We took inspiration from tribal signs for it, and it incorporates the 'C' of Cupra. It's meant to reflect the attitudes of the brand: courage and determination. We think it's a contemporary interpretation of the brand's image."

Can you tell us what the next few years have in store for Cupra?

"We have the ambition to double sales from the our first year to the second and establish our position in the market. We also have the ambition to bring back motorsport to the brand, maybe with something like the Leon e-Racer."
 

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