SEAT - Wikipedia
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The relative economic isolation of World War II damaged Italy and made Fiat interested in opportunities outside Italy, meaning that the negotiations with the Italian manufacturer could prosper more easily in favour of Spanish interests than with those from other countries. Inthe Banco Urquijo group had revived the S. The Banco Urquijo group, although a minority share holder, looked forward to assuming a leading role in the future as soon as the company was privatesed.
This way SEAT not only would be able to reinitiate the country's economic recovery and as the largest employer in the s and s but would also contribute to the industrialisation of what was still a largely rural economy.
Even though there were initial thoughts of locating in less developed inland cities like Valladolid and Burgosit was decided that the company's plant would be constructed in the duty-free zone area of the Port of Barcelona Barcelona Zona Francawhich would offer better access to the Mediterranean shipping and the rest of Europe through rail and road connections across the nearby French border.
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Being an enterprise of vital interest for the national economy as well as an investment opportunity for Fiat's expansion plans through the Iberian peninsula, SEAT benefitted from state tariff and tax exemptions and technical assistance from its foreign partner Fiat. The construction works for SEAT's Zona Franca plant began on and the opening day came three years later on June 5,while in the meantime since the Spanish marque was starting preparations for setting up almost from scratch an entire supplier industry background.
The first car in the marque's history to be produced was a SEAT model that came off the production line on November 13, with licence plate 'B In the following few months the plant's production output and workforce would significally increase together with the implementation of locally made components in the production process, in order to limit imports from one part and from another part to push to the development of the almost non-existent Spanish supplier industry and meet SEAT's assigned key role as the national car maker in restoring the Spanish economy of post—World War II Spain.
Nevertheless, the impact to the Spanish society could not be seen clear immediately, since the first model launched by SEAT was considered a luxury car therefore it was highly priced and still not affordable to the average Spanish consumer. As the growth of the annual production was hitting one record after another due to the heavy demand, the economies of scale achieved would permit cutting costs and prices, subsequently renew demand and boost sales together with profits for SEAT.
On June 29,the brand opened its new headquarters in Madridwhich hosted the firm's sole — up to — general administration offices. Infourteen years after producing cars for the domestic market, SEAT's success was signaled by its dominant position in Spain, ahead of its major competitors, i. In that year an agreement between Fiat and the Spanish Ministry of Industry was reached so as to put an end in the restrictions over exporting SEAT cars out of Spain, a term of the original licensee contract agreed with Fiat in Although not a majority owner, Fiat now was seen to control the business: To be able to produce independently its own research projects, SEAT on November 16, came in accordance with Fiat so as to start building separate infrastructures aiming at developing new technologies.
As the brand arranged in some provisional facilities in the site of the future Technical Center in Martorell and in began construction works, this goal would only take five years till to be reached with the completion of the first phase in the construction of SEAT's Technical Center, a facility designed by the Catalan architect Josep Antoni Coderch.
The talks ended soon on Julywhen an agreement was announced between the two parts under which SEAT would acquire from BLMC the Authi brand along with its assets for 1, million pesetas. The imposed acquisition of the Landaben plant would also result in giving up SEAT's plans to build a new facility in Saragossa.
The Spanish cars were fitted with a simplified suspension system and smaller engines than their Italian counterparts in order to qualify for a lower car tax rate. In SEAT's leasing company Liseat was founded and in the Gearbox del Prat facility was set up as a specialised plant in the production of gearboxes, gear mechanisms and differentials in El Prat del Llobregat near Barcelona.
Dispute with Fiat[ edit ] In the early s, extensive discussions concerning funding and control took place between SEAT's major shareholder, the Spanish government, and Fiat Automobiles ; SEAT needed major capital investment, which Fiat was not prepared to contribute, partially due to the oil crisis of the s and in also due to the uncertainty for Fiat's interests following the end of a protectionist policy against GM in Spain.
The outcome, inwas an end to the relationship with Fiat after nearly 30 years, a rather surprising decision in spite of the favourable perspectives for the Spanish economy with Spain being in the anteroom of the European Economic Community since The launch of this model though sparked a lawsuit from Fiat against SEAT, as the former claimed the car was too similar to a car in Fiat's range, the Ritmo.
The case was eventually taken to the Arbitration Chamber of Paris which in declared that differences between both cars were important enough so as not to consider the Ronda as a rebadged Ritmo, ending the dispute in favour of SEAT.
Rumour at the time had it that Fiat was angry because the Ronda restyling was in fact too close to their own planned restyling for the Fiat Ritmo, which they had to scrap.
Launched init was the first model developed by SEAT as an independent company, together with Porsche and Karmann. Carl Horst Hahn — who had just assumed responsibility as the chairman of the Volkswagenwerk AG Volkswagen Group — examined the opportunity of approaching SEAT after Fiat's withdrawal, in his plan to expand the Volkswagen Group's operations out of Germany and turning the German group into a global force.
It would also follow the precedent set by other global manufacturers such as Ford in Valencia and General Motors in Zaragoza in setting up manufacturing operations in Spain.
However, the Spanish authorities had already started talks with other foreign firms such as Toyota Nissan and Mitsubishi  in order to choose a strong partner for SEAT. It also formed the basis of the Malagaa four-door family saloon. SEAT then began to expand into markets beyond Spain's borders, including the United Kingdomwhere it began selling cars in the autumn of On December 18, the Volkswagen Group acquired Fulfilling Hahn's expectations, SEAT not only made a profit two years after Volkswagen bought a majority of its stock, but also provided a low-cost manufacturing outlet for other VW group models, contributing up to The gathering of the brand's main infrastructures in the greater Martorell plant area has taken place in a long process beginning back in with the opening of the SEAT Technical centre  but it was only in when a decision was taken to start building a new main assembly facility next to the Technical Centre in Martorell replacing the old one in Zona Franca.
Chryslerthe founder. The first Fiat-branded model to appear was the internationally popular Fiat city car.
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Africa[ edit ] Fiat passenger cars began assembly in South Africa inand full production in their Rosslyn plant commenced in A new -based half-ton pickup truck helped turn the situation around. At the beginning ofFiat was only importing Fiat Bravo and Fiat model. However, in Fiat and GAC opened a joint venture plant to produce the first Fiat vehicle specifically developed for Chinese market ever: Fiat currently offers to Japanese consumers the in both coupe and convertible bodystyles, and the Panda.
Both vehicles are in compliance with Japanese Government dimension regulations affording the Japanese public to purchase a non-Japanese vehicle without having to pay an annual tax for driving a car that exceeds the regulations.
Fiat is also present in the Indian market since Current presence is in joint venture with Tata Motorsalthough current car sales Fiat is currently offering the Fiat Punto and Fiat Linea are niche market and limited approx.