Celebrating 20 Years of Leon

16 Posted: 16th Sep 2019
Celebrating 20 Years of Leon
    • On its 20th anniversary, more than two million units of the SEAT compact have been sold since 1999
    • Placed in a straight line, they would stretch for more than 5,600 miles, about the same distance as SEAT's home in Martorell, Barcelona to Nairobi in Kenya
    • The growth and internationalisation experienced by the Leon mirrors that of SEAT over the past two decades
    • Sales of this model have doubled in Germany, which is now its leading market

    In 2019, SEAT celebrates the Leon's 20th anniversary, with over 2 million units sold across the world.

    Since the first generation made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999, enough SEAT Leon have sold that they would stretch nose to tail from SEAT's spiritual home in Martorell all the way to Nairobi - about 5,600 miles.

    Constant growth has been at the heart of the three generations of Leon, with each generation outperforming the last. The first was on sale until 2005, selling 534,797 units, the second sold over 100,000 more in its 7 years on the market (675,915), and the current generation accounts for more than a million units sold since it went on sale in 2012.

    New markets and an extended range, including its different variations, such as the Leon Estate and Leon X-Perience, are the reasons behind this quick growth of the family car. This has been a similar story with SEAT overall - the company has increased its sales by 60% since 2010.

    Leon is now sold in 48 markets across the world - up five compared with in 1999. New Zealand is the furthest destination for Leon - almost 12,000 miles from its historic home of Barcelona. The Leon was first sold there in 2017. Alongside New Zealand, since 1999 Algeria, Ukraine and Azerbaijan are just a few of the other markets to start selling Leon.

    SEAT exports have surged as a result of this international diversification, and now amount to over 80% of its production, a very similar percentage to that of the Leon. The figures posted by the company's main markets illustrate this globalisation; Germany's total sales share of Leon rose from 13% of the first generation to 24% of the current one. The UK is another example of international expansion, in parallel with SEAT, where more than twice as many units of the current generation have been sold as the first (132,684 cars to August 2019 compared to 50,740 for the first).

    Design has always been one of the main pillars of the Leon family and all three generations have been designed, developed and produced in the SEAT facilities in Martorell (Barcelona). Italy's Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the first, Walter da Silva penned the second and Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos took the helm for the current generation.

    Dynamism has always been a SEAT hallmark, and more specifically in the case of the Leon. The SEAT Leon Cupra R is currently the brand's most powerful vehicle, developing 310hp. Even back when it was first launched in 1999, the SEAT Leon was the most powerful model in the history of the company, with 180hp, 6-speed gearbox and 4-wheel drive. Following on from this, a SEAT Leon Cupra driven by Jordi Gené in 2014 broke the front-wheel drive record at the Nürburgring with a time of 07:58:00. One year later, the Leon CUPRA Estate also became the fastest family size vehicle at the legendary circuit, with a time of 7:58:12.

    It's not just production cars where the Leon has impressed, either. The SEAT Leon won the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in 2008 and 2009, marking the first time that a carmaker won the title with diesel engines.

Notes to Editor:

SEAT is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets cars in Spain. Member of the Volkswagen Group, the multinational has its headquarters in Martorell (Barcelona), exports the 80% of its vehicles, and is present in 80 countries on all five continents. In 2018, SEAT sold 517,600 cars, the highest figure in the 68-year history of the brand, posted a profit after tax of 294 million euros and a record turnover of close to 10 billion euros.

The SEAT Group employs over 15,000 professionals and has three production centres – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell, where it manufactures the highly successful Ibiza, Arona and Leon. Additionally, the company produces the Ateca in the Czech Republic, the Tarraco in Germany, the Alhambra in Portugal and soon the Mii electric production will start in Slovakia.

The multinational has a Technical Centre, which operates as a knowledge hub that brings together 1,000 engineers who are focused on developing innovation for Spain’s largest industrial investor in R&D. SEAT already features the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and it is currently engaged in the company’s global digitalisation process to promote the mobility of the future.

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