Urban Garage

How does a brand that ticks differently present itself? With its new CUPRA City Garage in Munich, CUPRA shows us how. We asked Bernhard Bauer, Managing Director of SEAT Germany, exactly what the concept is all about.
Text Patricia Jell
Photo Kirill Kirsanov · ramp.pictures

With the City Garage, CUPRA has opened a flagship store in the middle of Munich. How do you translate what CUPRA is all about into a store?
The landmark at Odeonsplatz blends typical CUPRA design elements with the building’s architecture in order to incorporate the history of the location into the store. With this special contrast, the CUPRA Garage accentuates the individuality of the brand, just as CUPRA’s models stand out prominently in an otherwise uniform streetscape.The central location in the heart of the city also says something about the brand’s vision: CUPRA is a challenger brand in tune with the times, urbane and independent.

How does a visitor to the City Garage experience CUPRA in the store?
The concept of the store wonderfully reflects the brand’s Spanish heritage. The ambience is designed to create the same sense of excitement and contemporary appeal that you feel when driving a CUPRA. The focus here is on the CUPRA Born, an embodiment of contemporary performance. In other words, a combination of motorsport tradition and modern electric mobility. The CUPRA Garage also succeeds in bringing together old and new, something I noticed immediately the first time I was here. Visitors discover that electric cars don’t have to be boring – that they can be filled with emotion. We’re an official mobility partner of FC Barcelona, and every visitor to the CUPRA Garage will immediately notice the club’s jersey that is prominently displayed here. This partnership with one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world also demonstrates our bond with the city of Barcelona. The brand and its models exude Spanish temperament. And that’s something you can feel in Munich as well.

“We’re a brand for car lovers: rebellious, provocative, sporty. And we stand by this attitude, even in the electric age.”

Bernhard Bauer

So the garage is a metaphor. What meaning does this have for CUPRA?
CUPRA is short for Cup Racer, so we clearly have our roots in motorsport. Even today, CUPRA designs and develops its motorsport vehicles itself, in Martorell near Barcelona. Motorsport is still a significant part of the brand’s philosophy, which is why the garage reference plays such a central role in the concept of the store.

What is your favorite part of the store? What should a visitor not miss?
Definitely our vertical hydroponics, our miniature garden, which literally brings the place to life and symbolizes the importance of sustainability. Just a few meters away is the CUPRA Born, which follows a carbon-neutral philosophy.

The City Garage gives customers an opportunity to experience the products up close, but it’s also a sales floor. To what extent does the concept represent a realignment of CUPRA’s sales strategy?
The CUPRA Born ushers in a new era for the company. And the end-to-end concept also reflects this in our sales strategy. Our goal is to build flexible, smaller, urban formats and to go where the customers are so we can offer them a completely different experience from what they already know. The concept also extends to an expanded presentation format with our virtual showroom, where potential buyers and the interested public can get to know the vehicles even without visiting the store. As a final step, we recently started offering the CUPRA Born on a subscription basis at attractive conditions: short term, full flexibility, all-included. The customer only has to drive the car, charge it and occasionally wash it. This is a whole new way of looking at the brand experience, staying in step with the times and meeting the customer in the here and now.

Doing things differently, challenging the status quo, being authentic . . . How important is it for CUPRA to be authentic, rebellious, defiant? And how important is courage?
We’re a brand for car lovers: rebellious, provocative, sporty. And we stand by this attitude, even in the electric age. It is the core of the brand. Sustainability and efficiency are rational topics that are very important and becoming increasingly significant. What we do is infuse them with emotion. CUPRA’s goal is to make electric mobility sportier and more dynamic. In terms of authenticity, you only have to look at the story of the CUPRA Born, which takes its name from the lively El Born neighborhood in Barcelona – a place filled with culture and life, vibrant and full of spirit. The car stirs emotions and fulfills our desire for sustainable transport solutions, but at the same time it doesn’t blend in with the crowd. The CUPRA Born is also the best example of what can be achieved if you are bold. Remember: CUPRA didn’t even exist as an independent brand four years ago. But we were daring and completely reimagined CUPRA as a brand. And we have achieved amazing things in this short amount of time. “Challenge the establishment” is part of the CUPRA philosophy. And the CUPRA Born is testimony to that fact.

What else can we expect from the City Garage in the future? What sorts of topics do you want to cover and what are your priorities?
The City Garage is also a place for cultural events and exhibitions where we can promote local talents and host collaborative activities. We think of our City Garages not just as a point of sale, but as a place where people can come together. As a part of the city’s culture and mobility scene. In this context, cooperative ventures with local partners are also conceivable.

“The ambience is designed to create the same sense of excitement and contemporary appeal that you feel when driving a CUPRA.”

Bernhard Bauer

Can you reveal a few highlights from the coming months?
We will definitely use the central location in order to invite people to events as soon as the situation permits. Our goal is clear: to experience CUPRA up close and personal – together with customers and anyone who is interested in the brand.

Currently on display are the CUPRA Born and the CUPRA Formentor VZ5, a fully electric car as well as the brand’s most powerful model to date. Performance and electrification. How important are these two features for CUPRA and for the future of the brand?
Performance and electrification are fundamental features of the CUPRA brand. They are the cornerstone on which all future models will be built. As already mentioned, CUPRA stands for contemporary performance. And in the future, this performance will be electric, though filled with emotion. The CUPRA Formentor VZ5 impressively demonstrates where the brand comes from. It is the highest level of what CUPRA can offer in terms of performance and a tribute to our racing roots – a real treat for car enthusiasts. The CUPRA Born, on the other hand, shows where the journey is headed, transporting many of these motorsport elements into the present.

The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept celebrated its world premiere at Munich’s City Garage. To what extent does it embody the vision of the brand?
The UrbanRebel is the most radical interpretation of an electric city car. The concept combines an all-electric powertrain, zero emissions and top performance, with unique aesthetics. As such, it provides a glimpse of the brand’s future design language. The urban electric vehicle is also a key strategic project for our company and for the Volkswagen Group. The goal is to produce more than five hundred thousand electric city cars per year for the various corporate brands in Martorell. With the urban electric car, we want to democratize electric mobility and make it accessible to the masses.

“We think of our City Garages not just as a point of sale, but as a place where people can come together.”

Bernhard Bauer

Another huge trend besides electrification is digitization. How digital is the experience at the City Garage?
The City Garage features the latest digital presentation technology. Our CUPRA Masters present our latest models to the customer in the virtual showroom. Using VR technology, prospective buyers experience their favorite model through the eyes of the CUPRA Master – conveniently and safely from the comfort of their own home.

Barcelona, Mexico City, Milan, Hamburg, Munich . . . How do you choose the locations? And what’s next?
CUPRA is rapidly becoming a global brand, which is why we will build a strong, global network – in just those urban environments for which the brand and its new models were and are made. A diverse approach to choosing our locations is just as important as recognizing market potential. Madrid, Rotterdam, Lisbon and Berlin will follow soon. We are also planning to open a CUPRA City Garage in Sydney in 2022.

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