At a press conference held at the SEAT Technical Centre on 20 February, SEAT President, Dr Andreas Schleef, stated that the company had ended the year with a 202.96 million euros profit.

SEAT described that as a very positive result in view of the downturn in the European car market generally and the major investment programme SEAT has embarked upon for the development of future products. This programme includes a new model to be built at its Martorell plant near Barcelona.

During 2002 SEAT produced a total of 423,599 SEAT cars at Martorell, an increase of 3.8 per cent on the previous year. Total production at the plant was 5.1 per cent down on 2001 to 455,677 units, due mainly to a reduction in the number of Volkswagen models produced at this site.

Sales to customers were 460,027 units for the year, a decrease of 5.7 per cent, which SEAT said was in line with the general market downturn. However, sales increased in the UK by 8.5 per cent and in Germany by 4.3%, share being added in both.

SEAT also said that the brand saw sales ‘soar spectacularly’ in Mexico.

Dr Schleef spoke positively about SEAT’s membership of the new Audi Group of brands, the sports-orientated division of the Volkswagen Group structure, and the synergies being achieved as a result. He cited the example of the SEAT Technical Centre playing a major role in the development of a new Audi model.

Looking ahead, he stated that SEAT would be building a new model that will be the start of a ‘new generation of vehicles which emphasise the sporty character of the brand and enhance design by innovation’.