CDR4 Highlights: Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, SEAT

27 September 2017 | by CDN Team

We are a young brand. We started to sell cars with a Seat face in 1984 so that was yesterday. We are pretty honest, and satisfied in what we have already achieved. Look at the Leon: it’s won every test everywhere, in Germany, England and Spain.

We have a car that has the best technology. It’s the first step in our new family of cars, the Ateca is the second step and the new Ibiza and Arona [Ibiza-based SUV] is the third. We have all this sorted out and will have a nice little range that will be complete by 2019.

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In parallel to that, we are also starting with all-new cars which will answer the mega-trends – especially electrification. We will have probably a fully-electric car within the brand by 2020, a car that has been specifically conceived to be electric. This is already a big thing that not all brands can say, so suddenly we will be jumping into the first league with this car. I’m pretty optimistic.

We are also pushing very, very hard with digitalisation and the business of selling cars in the future. I think we will surprise people.

20V20 sketch - int - side view.jpg

This is going to be new stuff, so we take this new set of rules as an opportunity more than a handicap, because almost all the brands are starting from scratch. We need to position ourselves slightly differently and this will take time, because 2020 is not tomorrow.

We need to preserve this emotional approach to Seat products. It should be slightly different. A product can be very emotional but with a more rational approach. The iPhone is extremely rational but it’s very emotional too, because of its functions. The emotional charge of a black rectangle is nearly zero but we are all attached still; we cannot live without it.

20V20 - int console render.jpg

We are more into the software of the emotions at Seat. ‘Sensuality’, for instance, is a word which describes appealing to the senses. It suggests you want to touch it, smell it, and see it. You want to have feedback to your senses from this car, and this is the kind of sensuality and emotionality that Seat has. This will never be part of some other brands. 

In general, I see the impact [of ‘Dieselgate’ on the VW Group] from a positive point of view. Of course there are negative impacts, I’m not naïve. But on the other hand, it’s like a reset. It’s like ‘let’s do it right now, let’s get stronger,’ and I think that is spreading across the Group. It was necessary, because we were arriving to a point where all the brands were getting a little bit the same. In the past, there was a pattern that was more established to design cars within the Group.

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Mesonero-Romanos, eating the world's largest invisible cheeseburger

But since Dieselgate, one of the weapons to fight in the market is definitely the differentiation between the designs of the brands. This is being encouraged by the new direction of the Group, and I think this is a tremendously positive change. I’m very critical of myself, so it’s hard to say which other brands beyond the VW Group are doing well. But Mazda is creating something little by little, very modern; they have a certain sense of coherence and I respect what they are doing a lot.

*Seat - digital screen sketch 006 - this could replace the-not-very-good powerwall shot.JPG

Why would any student want to come and work for us? I receive lots of portfolios during the year, and I think that what we are able to offer to people is, first of all, the big advantage of being part of the Group but a brand that is small, and with a very advanced design process and a range that is growing up.

Then, I always really push to create the right environment for creativity. I think that happy designers create happy cars.

*Seat design team group shot - 001_210_2013.jpg

At the moment, I have people who have left and who are asking to come back. You have Barcelona, which is beautiful – the sea, the snow. It’s a very cool city. You can live here with very little money, something which is impossible in London, Paris or Berlin. Here, you can go to the beach every weekend even if you don’t have a penny, eat fantastic food for almost no money, cycle around the city, visit exhibitions.

With a little bit more money, you can go skiing or boating. We are like sponges – and all these things make the people absorb good energy and good stuff so that they come here to work with a smile.

Car Design Review 4 contains the best concept and production cars of the year, as chosen by the world's leading designers, trends, student work, and much more. Available now.

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