CUPRA wants to do the Americas and enter the U.S.

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CUPRA wants to do the Americas and enter the U.S.

SEAT, through the CUPRA brand, is exploring its entry into the United States as a premium brand with mid-size and large electric cars, just the way the locals like it. It’s years away, but the work has to start.

CUPRA has ambitions to be a global brand. In June last year, at an international event held at Terramar, the brand presented its ambitions for 2025. Not only will there be a renewal of its current range (Leon, Ateca, Born and Formentor), but also new models.

They will be called Terramar, Tavascan and UrbanRebel, of which we have already told you the first details. The first units were already registered in our country in February, although they are not yet on sale, as they are development/validation units. More models may be available beyond 2025.

Wayne Griffiths, head of SEAT and CUPRA, has commented that the first soundings are being made in the U.S. market with a view to a future launch on the other side of the Atlantic. The truth is that the known CUPRA catalog (current and for 2024-2025) is not exactly what would work best over there.

CUPRA wants to do the Americas and enter the U.S.

There are several examples of European brands that have crashed in the United States for not having a product in line with local tastes. Brands such as Renault, Citroën, Peugeot or Alfa Romeo failed at different times between the 1950s and 1990s. They were “too” European.

The brands that did work in the US were able to satisfy local tastes or found an unexplored market niche. For example, Volkswagen swept the market with the Beetle at a time when it was normal to buy cars over 5 meters long, and BMW knew how to find its niche as a premium sports brand – nothing to do with what was available there.

If CUPRA wants to enter the U.S. market, it needs bigger cars, and that inevitably leads us to think of mid-size or large electric SUVs, as Griffiths told Autocar. We know that the starting platform will be Volkswagen Group’s SSP, so some of the work would be done. There will be SSP-based models from Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, at least, and with an existing distribution network.

In June last year CUPRA announced its goal of reaching 500,000 units per year globally. Before proceeding with such an expansion, CUPRA has to secure its space in the European market. The brand as such was born in 2018, inheriting the CUPRA brand name from the sportier SEATs.

In its first year, CUPRA turned over €430 million, while in 2021 turnover multiplied to €2.2 billion. What’s more, in 2022 sales almost doubled (+93%) and reached a volume of 150,000 cars (out of a total of 385,600 SEAT and CUPRA).

The most successful model right now is the Formentor, almost 64% of deliveries in 2022. Its main European markets are German, British, Spanish, Italian, French… The share in February this year was 1.2%, but they aim to secure 3-4%, which is a lot. This would be followed by expansion efforts in the USA.

CUPRA has already started its American adventure in Spanish-speaking markets; it has arrived in Mexico, and will be arriving in Colombia and Chile soon. The more European product has a better fit in those countries than in the US. The focus is on the premium brand, where it can find a niche as other European brands have already done.

Alfa Romeo, Alpine or Volvo, European brands with no local production capacity, could be in a similar league. For the time being, the most pressing issue is to present the Tavascan, which is to be manufactured in China by a local Volkswagen partner, and which could take the baton from the Ateca at a later stage.

Volume may come in large quantities with the Urban Rebel, which will be launched in 2025 and will be related to the Volkswagen ID.2. Both will be manufactured in Martorell with batteries made in Sagunto – a factory that has just started construction. As for the Terramar, it will be manufactured in Gyor (Hungary) together with the Audi Q3 Sportback.

CUPRA wants to do the Americas and enter the U.S.

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