Last year, Cupra, the young brand of Volkswagen Group, was able to register more cars than Alfa Romeo and Lancia combined in Europe. It sounds as sad as crazy, especially because Cupra is a brand that did not exist four years ago. How did this happen?
Cupra was born once it had a real and feasible product plan. It started as a rebadge brand of some of the existing products of Seat, that received some vitamins to become more powerful, aggresive, and more expensive. It became the cool side of Seat, or where the consumers looking for big emotions had to go within the Spanish maker lineup.
The Cupra Leon and Ateca were the first step of a plan that brought to life dedicated products and kept this new brand alive and relevant. After two years in the market, Cupra launched the Formentor, its first stand-alone model. It is a sporty C-SUV that uses the same platform of the latest generation of the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia and Seat Leon.
A higher price tag
Cupra cars are 41% more expensive than Seat cars. They are basically the same cars, but Cupra has been able to grow fast despite this big price gap with its sister brand. For example, a Cupra Leon is 52% more expensive than a Seat Leon. Still, in 2021 Cupra registered more than 73,000 new cars in Europe, or almost four times the volume registered in 2020.
In contrast, Alfa Romeo and Lancia registered 70,400 units during the same period. Alfa targets the upper D segments, while Lancia plays in the entry-segment in Italy. The average retail price of the cars registered by these brands in Italy in 2021 was €23,600, against €37,730 posted by the Cupras registered in Spain.
Right positioning and consistent launch plan
Cupra is simply asking more money for a mainstream car. Abarth already does it with the Fiat 500, with relative but limited success. The key is the right positioning of this muscled Seats, by placing them somewhere between the mainstream and premium choices. They target the consumers looking for something good, fun and not pretentious.
At the same time, Cupra has become a serious choice for many consumers because it has been makign noise since its introduction in late 2018. The product launch plan has included periodic presentations that keep alive the interest from the public. Alfa Romeo should take note.