Cupra is looking to enter the US market and to do so, it believes it needs a larger model – and Australia would be in line for it.

    Company CEO Wayne Griffiths confirmed that, should such a vehicle be produced, it would be a global product, manufactured in both left- and right-hand drive, with a “provocative” design.

    Cupra has yet to lock in a US market introduction, saying it’s “early days”, but has been busily undertaking market research and is pushing for the opportunity.

    Given the taste for larger vehicles there, Cupra sees room for something larger than the upcoming Volkswagen Tiguan-sized Terramar in its line-up.

    “The car that we would do for the US would also be a great car for you guys in Australia, I think,” said Mr Griffiths, noting it would be a global model.

    “You can imagine that if we’re looking to go to the US, we need cars that can work in the US.

    “I think it would be a mistake a lot of manufacturers have made that mistake going with European design cars and trying to make them work in the US because the US has specific requirements.

    “So you’re right that we would need a bigger car. And the bigger car would also have to be an SUV, I think, because that’s what the US customers want.”

    While he warns the vehicle hasn’t been confirmed just yet, it would use the new SSP architecture which isn’t expected to launch until 2028.

    “I think to have the ideal car for the US that would be have to be developed that also fits with the US market. And therefore it would have to be a newly developed car, then we should do that newly developed car on the newest platform that then has the longest time to run,” said Mr Griffiths.

    Even if it is closer to a Volkswagen Atlas than a Tiguan in size, it will still have a distinctly sporty focus.

    “Please don’t use that word luxury for Cupra. Because we don’t do luxury cars,” warned Mr Griffiths.

    “We have plenty of brands in the Volkswagen Group do luxury and premium cars. We’re not about luxury, or premium, or big.

    “And I mean, that’s getting us into a real trap and an overlap with other brands that we don’t need.”

    He ruled out a ute for the brand, noting the Volkswagen Group is already working on an electric ute with its upcoming Scout brand.

    The Volkswagen Group currently offers only the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen brands in the US market, with no SEAT or Skoda presence.

    Mr Griffiths sees an opening for Cupra there as a niche brand.

    “We’ve just been doing some research with customers in the US to see how they react to our brand and design. We haven’t finished the report yet, but the first results are positive,” said Mr Griffiths.

    “The brand seems to fit with some of the US customers, I mean, it’s not going to be a mass brand for the US. If we go there, we’re going to be a niche, very focused brand, very focused on certain cities and regions.”

    “We’re pushing for it, as you can see. But at the end of the day, we have to get the support of the Volkswagen Group.

    “And they have to prioritise this because going to the US with the brand is a big decision in terms of development costs, getting the cars ready for us in terms of that, but also in terms of the investment you have to make to get to go into that market.”

    “It’s going to be really difficult to be viable. But so we would be looking to use group synergies in terms of platforms. And also using group synergies in terms of manufacturing, particularly with the Inflation [Reduction] Act in the US now, if you want to be competitive.”

    The Inflation Reduction Act calls for EVs to be manufactured in North America in order for a US$7500 federal tax credit to be applicable. By 2029, the Act also stipulates all battery components would need to be manufactured in North America for vehicles to be eligible for the tax credit.

    Mr Griffiths says Cupra would only go to the US market with a range of vehicles, and suggested MEB-based vehicles could also feature in the line-up there.

    He also confirmed it would follow a similar retail network model there as in Australia, with a focus on digital sales.

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    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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