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The Spanish car manufacturer Seat (Sociedad Espanola de Automoviles de Turismo) was founded in May 1950 by Instituto Nacional de Industria (INI) of Spain. The manufacturer was formed a year and a half after the Spanish government and 5 Spanish banks signed an alliance contract with Italian firm Fiat; this meant nearly all of Seat's first offerings to the industry were manufactured re-badged Fiat models. The Seat 600 was based on the Fiat 600, while the Seat Panda was based on the Fiat Panda. In 1953 Seat's first plant was opened in the Zona Franca District of Barcelona where the brand's first model - the 1400 - was produced.
In just 17 years Seat had become the country's largest auto mobile manufacturer and 1967 saw Fiat increase its share in the company, the government reduce its share and 6 major banks take the remaining 32%. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the brand produced a number of key models, such as the 850, the 1500 and the 124, and in 1974 Seat were ranked 8th amongst European car manufacturers. 1984 saw the launch of one of Seat's most popular models, the Seat Ibiza, which was designed to be a family-friendly, high performance vehicle. In 1990 Volkswagen acquired up to 99.99% of Seat's shares and the first model to be released within the Volkwagen Group, the Seat Toleda, was revealed at the Barcelona Motor Show in 1991.
Nowadays Seat is one of the most popular manufacturers in the Volkswagen Group and has a number of successful models, including the Ibiza, Leon, Altea and Exeo. Seat are currently investing heavily in research and development and the upcoming years see the release of even more eco-friendly vehicles. Almost every model in the current Seat range of models has an "Ecomotive" version, which is a more eco-friendly version of the standard model, and the brand are keen to take this to the next level with the launch of a number of projects, including the Cenit Verde project and the Seat al Sol project.