Q&A: Luca de Meo

SEAT's chairman explains the firm's technology priorities, the rise of connectivity and how it will meet emissions standards

What are your technology priorities over the next ten years?
We see three big trends: the electrification part, the connected car and autonomous driving. A lot of people would talk about automatic pilot cars, etc. I think in that field we will probably be following the others, maybe accessing some of the technology that Volkswagen Group has. 
On electrification, I think it's more or less the same story. We will probably not be frontrunners but the beauty of our situation, compared to other small brands, is that we can access the technological supermarket of the group.
Our job is to find the right and, I would say, least expensive way for the consumer to do it because we don't really see natural demand, for example, pure electric vehicles at this stage.

How much R&D input into that supermarket of technologies does SEAT have?
We have 1,000 engineers and we take care of everything from suspension, the dynamic components and electronics. We don't develop engines but certainly there is a certain continued exchange on some of the things on what are our requirements.
Then you have the whole story of mobility, which is a trend. I’m of the opinion that this thing will grow because the offer will be there either from manufacturers or from third parties including the rent-a-car companies which simply by the fact that they can access key digital technologies, they will be able to move from day renting to minute renting, so from renting to micro renting.
So, theoretically, they have all the platforms, all the logistics, all the capabilities to do it. So there will be a lot of people moving in. So when the offer is there, a demand will be there. And the question is, will that be 5% or 20% or 30%? And so I don't think anybody right now has the answer.
In four or five years we will see SEAT engaging, somehow, in offering new mobility opportunities for consumers because the technology is there.
The connected car for me, it's a big topic. I always use the image of Apple moving from the iPod to the iPhone, one was connected, one not. And the iPhone changed the game because it opened up a huge opportunity for Apple.
If you look at the turnover that Apple is doing with software, it's only a part of their turnover but by doing this they actually really made sure that people stay with their hardware. So Apple is taking a big part of the profit of the hardware industry because, through that, they create an ecosystem that nobody, when you are in, you never want to leave. So that's the model.

tags: Electronics Emissions Seat Connectivity