Friday, April 25, 2008

García Sanz and Seat: is Volkswagen trusting the right person?

Since july 2007, García Sanz is chairman of Board of Directors of SEAT, a Volkswagen company sited in Catalonia. You can read about his profile on Volkswagen. García Sanz was born in Madrid. I guess readers have sometimes heard about rivalty between Barcelona and Madrid in football, but beyond this sports stuff, I'm sure everybody knows there is a political conflict too, which unlike in the Basque Countries has found uniquely political ways. The ERC, for example, is a secessionist party having 21 of 135 parlamentaries, and is now part of the Government. Catalan identity is strong among the population although some people share it with Spanish feelings too. One of the most significant points is the internet domain .CAT for catalan-speakers. But surprisingly enough, if you tipe on your web browser you will be visiting SEAT Andorra, which is only a part of the linguistic zone and a state independent from Spain. For Spain, SEAT has one single domain: .ES. And not even a Catalan version oin it.

Any serious enterprise knows that identity and language can approach our product to people. In societies where identity conflicts are still alive this is increased. I imagine Volkswagen's aim is to make money selling cars, not to contribute to any nationalist project that could result in rejection. Spanish Government has a nationalist project which consists of using taxes to get money from Catalonia and than invest on infrastructures located in Madrid, thus developing the center. But this is not the case for Volkswagen. They only sell cars. Politics should not interfere on business. But in spite of this, Mr. García seems to be proud of being a Spanish nationalist and acts as if he was a politician. Certainly a bad one.

Last week Mr. Garcia gave a press conference at the Spanish Embassy in Berlin (El Periódico comments it) to announce the new car the company is going to sell at the end of the year. He said SEAT had big trouble to give a name to the car since almost all cities had already been used. At that point, a journalist commented that no SEAT car had the name of any Catalan city yet (Córdoba, León or Toledo are some names used). The answer was clear: “SEAT is a Spanish company”, where “spanish” means “not catalan at all”.

Now imagine a similar situation for a German company: imagine all cars have names of German cities from everywhere except for Baden-Württemberg. Someone suggests a Stuttgart and Mr. Garcia says: “Oh no, we are not using Schwäbish names! We are German!” In terms of business, I can not understand why Volkswagen is still trusting Mr. Garcia. In political terms, if Garcia was a politician, this is nothing new: Spain does not consider Catalonia to be a part of it. Spain is Spanish. Exclusively Spanish. But they take the money from Catalonia and they do not allow the right to decide.

Now take a look at Catalan media and blogs (here an example from Salvador Cardús, whom many people read and admire): lots and lots of people are saying they are not going to buy a SEAT car anymore. NEVER. So, where's the business now?


segalas-k said...

te convidi a visitar eth mèn blog desde era Val d'Aran
Lo País:
mèrci plan

Erik Wirdheim said...

Hi Xavier,

Well, in the end let`s be happy that we wont have to see Seat "Gerona" of Seat "Lérida" on the roads! ;-)

Although I think it's pity that you do not have more time to write in English, I'm happy to finally have found your blog in Catalan.

In the last few weeks I have started to add comments in Catalan to my own blog. And finally do I start to receive comments from local people.