SEAT has started production of the new Leon at Martorell, near Barcelona.
Unveiled at the recent Paris Motor Show, the model has meant an overall investment of €800 million, primarily in vehicle development and the production facilities.
Dr Andreas Tostmann, Executive Vice-President for Production, declared that, “with the new Leon we have increased productivity by ten per cent and become more flexible, thus guaranteeing optimization of production costs”.
Dr Tostmann also highlighted the fact that “the €800 million investment in the new Leon consolidates our leadership position as Spain’s number one industrial investor in R&D”, adding that “the Leon, together with the Ibiza, represents the very essence of SEAT. It is a vehicle that projects strength, exuding precision and quality”.
SEAT has now started production of the five-door version of the Leon. Sales will begin at the end of November in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, followed by Spain in early 2013. Next year will also see the appearance of three-door and estate versions (both built at Martorell), which for the first time will expand the Leon family to three members, making it a more attractive and versatile model, catering to a wider range of customers. Together, the first two generations accumulated total sales of 1.2 million units since 1999.
The Leon will be crucial to SEAT’s plans for a resurgence in the Irish market. Although it has held a steady two per cent market share for pretty much the past decade, its cousins in the VW Group, Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi, have surged ahead, leaving SEAT behind. Now though, with the arrival of both the new Leon and the more affordable new Toledo (as well as the already-on-sale Mii city car and updated Ibiza hatchback) SEAT is investing €20-million in Ireland to boost its image and its sales.
The new Leon is the first production vehicle to display SEAT’s new design language, and signals an enormous step forward for the brand. The Leon is equipped with a wide range of groundbreaking technology for improved safety and enhanced connectivity. The model is 90 kilograms lighter and 52 mm shorter than its predecessor, and has more interior space.
The offering of six petrol and four diesel power units guarantees a wide range to cater to all sorts of customers. At the same time, it is the first car to carry integrated LED headlights. Also, the new Leon is equipped with Start/Stop technology for greater efficiency – on average it consumes 15 per cent less fuel than the previous generation.