With the creation of the INI (Instituto Nacional de Industria) in 1941, the objective was to create large industries in Spain in key sectors. One of them was the automotive industry and ENASA was created to manufacture vehicles.
The same time, an agreement has been reached with Fiat to be able to produce cars under license. Thus, on May 9, 1950, the company SEAT SA was created, held by INI at 51%, six banks at 42% and FIAT at 7%.
The first model to be produced was the SEAT 1400, which was a six-seater car aimed at the upper middle class and replacing older taxis. It was also an easy model to produce, since it was an almost exact copy of the FIAT 1400.
Thus, plant start-up was less risky, workers were reliably trained, and manufacturing processes were flawless. This model, intended for a smaller market segment, made it possible to avoid overloading series production in its first years. If they had chosen a “multipurpose” model, a very high production volume would have been imposed from the start.
It was not easy to establish a car factory at that time. It took just under two years to complete the plant in the Zone Franca from Barcelona. In addition, this factory has encouraged the creation of many suppliers around it.
INI’s mission was for most of the industries supplying components to the new plant to be Spanish. With nearly 2,000 workers needed to start production, other needs arose, such as housing and training.
It was therefore necessary to build housing and services for all the new inexperienced workers who came from all over Spain to train and work in the free zone. The SEAT apprentice school was also born, it trains all the people who will work in the factory.
The Spanish company remains an important pillar of the automotive market Spanish. Not only for having sales leaders like the Arona (the best-selling car in Spain in 2021) or for successfully creating the Cupra brand, but also for maintaining a business network that employs hundreds of thousands of people in the country.
The latest example is the construction of the Sagunto battery plantwho will be responsible for producing this component for the entire Volkswagen Group. Or the fact that in the past (and complicated) year 2021, Seat manufactured a total of 391,204 cars, including 106,875 units of the Arona.
Some have taken advantage of the bad economic conjecture caused by multiple crises to consider this brand as “dead”. But nothing could be less true, if we consider the group’s industrial growth in Spain and Volkswagen’s commitment to making Seat spearheading the electrification of the group’s small cars.
The present seems to be solid, reliable and comes with guarantees. The future remains to be written, but there is no doubt that their history proves them right. Turning 72 is not a ’round’ birthday, but it is an important moment to recognize what the mark has been and what it means to Spaniards. Congratulations to all members of the Seat family.