SEPTEMBER 11, 2000
The sporting future of Seat
THE SEAT company has announced that it is withdrawing from the World Rally Championship at the end of the year as part of the company's rebranding. Seat Sport will now be in charge of the development and production of high performance vehicles based on current and future SEAT models and a range of parts and accessories. The intention is to give the Spanish firm - a subsidiary of Volkswagen - a new young, sporty and design-oriented image. The news was followed by the announcement that Skoda, another Volkswagen subsidiary, is increasing its involvement in the World Rally Championship. The moves would appear to suggest that Volkswagen is finally beginning to streamline its rather confused sporting programs and create a concerted global plan.
The interesting question is what SEAT will now do. The firm is now under the control of former BMW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder, a big Formula 1 fan, and it is possible that he may be pushing hard for the company to involve itself in Grand Prix racing as a way of increasing sales around the world and improving its image of being a low-cost, low-quality car company. Spanish influence in F1 has been growing steadily in recent years and the importance of the Spanish-speaking audiences of Latin America should not be overlooked.
Pischetsrieder was the force behind the current BMW Formula 1 program with Williams and it may be that now he has a new job, he will try to convince the Volkswagen management that F1 is a good move to promote one of the VW brands.
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