Seat is heading to China. Volkswagen Group China and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC), the partners in the JAC Volkswagen Automotive joint venture, and Seat have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will see the VW Group’s Spanish brand team up with the JV and lead the project.

The agreement was signed by Seat president Luca de Meo, Volkswagen Group China president Dr Jochem Heizmann and JAC President An Jin in the presence of German chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang in Berlin on Monday.

The signing of this MoU signals a turning point for the Barcelona-based company. Since the creation of the joint venture in 2017, it has contributed in the areas of design and R&D. Under the agreement, Seat will become a shareholder of JAC Volkswagen, which will result in the introduction of the Seat brand in the Chinese market in 2020-2021.

“Our participation in this new phase of the joint venture is a milestone for Seat. Today will be remembered in the history of the company, as we are entering a new era that will enable us to globalise the brand and boost the development of electric vehicles,” de Meo said.

“China offers many opportunities for Seat and we are going to contribute mobility solutions to suit the needs of customers. This is also a chance for us to learn from the future trends that are developing in China,” he added.

The MoU also includes an agreement that the JV will establish an R&D centre in China to develop electric vehicles, connectivity and autonomous driving technologies, including relevant parts and components and core technologies, with operational use planned for 2021. The JV will launch a competitive electric car, it said.

Present in over 80 countries, Seat sold nearly 470,000 vehicles last year. The company employs more than 15,000 people and has three production centres in Spain (Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell) making the Ibiza, Leon and Arona. The Ateca and the Toledo are made in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal and the Mii in Slovakia.