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SEAT is a Volkswagen subsidiary and one of the leading car makers in Spain. It was founded in the year 1950 as a subsidiary of FIAT, with an important share owned by the Spanish Government under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the factory being located in Barcelona.
The acronym "SEAT" stood for Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo (Spanish Corporation of Touring Cars), and should be pronounced "SEH-aht."
Initially, SEAT manufactured rebadged FIAT models which differed very little visually from the products of the Italian parent. The SEAT Panda (later restyled as Marbella) for example was based on the FIAT Panda. The SEAT 600 (based on FIAT 600) was the first car for many Spanish families, and became a symbol of the Spanish Miracle.
The first car under the new SEAT logo without FIAT involvement appeared in 1982, and was called the SEAT Ronda. This was a restyled FIAT Ritmo, and sparked a lawsuit from Fiat against SEAT, as the former claimed the car was still too similar to the Ritmo. The then president of SEAT, Juan Miguel Antoñanzas, showed a Ronda to the press with all the parts different from the FIAT Ritmo painted in bright yellow, to highlight the differences. This ended the dispute. 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.
After the withdrawal of FIAT in 1981, the Volkswagen Group signed a cooperation agreement with SEAT, becoming the major shareholder in 1986, and owner of 100% of the company in 1990.
SEAT has its manufacturing plant in Martorell, an industrial city near Barcelona. The Martorell plant is one of the newest in Europe. Each year more than 450,000 cars are manufactured in this plant. Seat's headquarters have been recently moved also from Barcelona to Martorell.
SEAT has its own sales and distribution facilities in 50 countries. The number of employees is 14,500. Additionally, 1,250 people work in the research and development center in Martorell.
The company develops and designs its own models of cars in accordance with the policies of the Volkswagen Group. Some of its cars have been sold as Volkswagens, such as the SEAT Ibiza hatchback, known in South Africa as the VW Polo Playa, the SEAT Inca van as the VW Caddy or the SEAT Cordoba also known as the VW Polo classic. For the purposes of model strategy, SEAT belongs to Audi, together with Lamborghini, all subsidiaries of the Volkswagen Group.
Rumors of a SEAT model being sold as a Volkswagen in North America to supplement the VW brand's lineup there have occasionally circulated, but have always been unsubstantiated and ultimalely false.
Earlier models
* SEAT 600/800
* SEAT 850
* SEAT 1200 Sport
* SEAT 1400
* SEAT 1430
* SEAT 1500
* SEAT 124
* SEAT 127
* SEAT 128
* SEAT 131
* SEAT 132
* SEAT 133
* SEAT Fura
* SEAT Panda
* SEAT Ritmo
* SEAT Ronda
* SEAT Terra
* SEAT Inca
* SEAT Málaga or SEAT Gredos in some markets
* SEAT Marbella
* SEAT Arosa
Recent models
* SEAT Ibiza
* SEAT Córdoba
* SEAT León
* SEAT Altea
* SEAT Toledo
* SEAT Alhambra
Concept Models
* SEAT Cupra GT
* SEAT Formula
* SEAT Salsa
* SEAT Tango