SEAT has started production of the new Leon hatchback at its factory in Martorell, Spain. The all-new model is the result of an overall investment of 800 million euros (c. £650m), primarily in vehicle research and development, and production facilities.
The stunning new SEAT Leon, which was unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show, will drive the international expansion of SEAT and will increase production at the Martorell plant, where it will be built alongside the Ibiza, Altea, and Exeo – together with the Audi Q3.
The five-door hatchback is the first of the new Leon model family, which by 2014 will include a sleek three-door variant and a practical five-door estate. This approach mimics the blueprint of the hugely successful Ibiza range, and will help the Leon become a key competitor in the compact segment in Europe – which accounts for 38% of total car sales.
The production of the new Leon is not only great news for family car buyers, it’s also a big boost to the economy, ensuring 1,600 jobs on the Martorell production line plus more than 6,000 throughout the supply chain.
Dr. Andreas Tostmann, SEAT Executive Vice President for Production, said: “With the new Leon we have increased productivity by 10% and become more flexible, thus guaranteeing optimisation of production costs.”
Together, the first two generations of the Leon achieved total global sales of 1.2 million units, beginning with 1999’s original model and continuing with 2005’s second generation car. SEAT expects a continuation of this success story when sales of the all-new car begin this year in Europe. UK sales begin early 2013 – a year that will also see the global motor show debuts of the three-door and estate versions.
The new SEAT Leon is underpinned by the Volkswagen Group’s latest MQB modular transverse platform, providing a significant reduction in manufacturing time compared with the second generation Leon.
The platform also offers greater flexibility, enabling production of the three versions of the Leon as well as Altea variants all on the same line. SEAT has also adapted its manufacturing processes to ensure the highest levels of precision and quality, by the use of latest-generation technologies such as laser welding and measurement, as well as hot stamping.
The new Leon is the first all-new production vehicle to display SEAT’s latest design language, and signals an enormous step forward for the brand, equipped with a host of ground-breaking technology for improved safety and enhanced connectivity; it is the first in its class to offer full LED headlights as an option.
It is 90 kilograms lighter and 52 millimetres shorter than its predecessor, improving fuel consumption and handling, yet it has more interior passenger space and luggage capacity. Every new Leon from launch is equipped with Start/Stop technology for greater efficiency – on average it consumes 15% less fuel than the previous generation.