Ibiza to return to Spain

Seat wants to end its production in Bratislava; profit above target again

Barcelona. The Spanish VW subsidiary Seat plans to move Ibiza production from Bratislava back to its main plant Martorell as quickly as possible.

CEO Andreas Schleef told Automobilwoche: "We have applied for the move to the VW Group's plant planning department." It is not clear when and if the application will be accepted.

Seat moved 10 percent (approximately 20,000 units) of the Ibiza production to Bratislava in 2002, despite fierce resistance from the three Spanish unions. This was after employees refused to work extra shifts to build the car.

But the situation has changed. In May the VW subsidiary and the unions agreed on a new collective contract, after many months of disputes.

Said Schleef: "This gives us the opportunity to manufacture the complete Ibiza range at the Martorell plant.

He said that the revolutionary wage agreement is flexible and theoretically Martorell's production line could be running around the clock, six days a week. He said that labor costs are 20 percent cheaper than in Germany.

It is fairly easy for Seat to comply with the group's demand to do its bit for the "ForMotion" austerity plan due to the cost advantages. According to Schleef, the brand will represent between 5 percent and 8 percent of the total targeted saving figures of 4 billion euros, which should be reached by the end of 2005.

The Seat boss is proud that his brand will exceed the 2004 profit target stipulated by the group for the third time in a row.

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