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Skoda Auto to more than double sales to 30,000 units this year

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on March 18, 2021

(from left) Gurpratap Boparai, MD-Skoda Auto Volkswagen India; Milan Hovorka, Czech Ambassador to India; and Zac Hollis, Brand Director, Skoda Auto India, at the launch of Skoda Kushaq in Mumbai   -  PTI

Unveils mid-size SUV Skoda Kushaq

Skoda Auto India plans to more than double its annual sales to 30,000 cars this year on the back of its India 2.0 project with the Volkswagen Group, the company’s top officials said.

The Czech automaker on Thursday unveiled the mid-size SUV Skoda Kushaq, its first product designed and developed under the India 2.0 project. “The Skoda Kushaq will go on sale in July, and very quickly, that will ramp up our sales. So, I am confident that by the end of this year (calendar year), we will sell over 30,000 cars,” Zac Hollis - Brand Director, Skoda Auto India, told BusinessLine. “This would be more than double of what we sold last year,” said Gurpratap Boparai, MD, Škoda Auto VolkswagenIndia Pvt Ltd.

₹8,000-crore investment

Skoda Auto’s India 2.0 project with the Volkswagen Group was announced over two years ago, with a planned investment of ₹8,000 crore to strengthen the group’s operations in the country. Skoda Auto will launch four cars in the next 12 months, with the Octavia slated to be rolled out next month and the Kodiaq for Q3 of this calendar year. At the end of the year, the company will showcase its second car under the India 2.0 project, which will be a sedan.

“Although the shift to SUVs in the Indian market is strong and irreversible, we feel that other body styles will also continue to play a major part in the market going forward. And I think sedans are obviously one of those body styles. There is a strong segment of people who prefer the elegance of sedans and we shall have products for them as well,” said Boparai.

Market share

Under the India 2.0 project, Skoda Auto eyes a five per cent market share with Volkswagen by 2025 and plans for India to be among the top five markets for the company by then. “All these plans are on track. I think it's fantastic that we are delivering this car without any delay, despite what happened last year with Covid-19. Everything is on track with preparing our business ready for this car — in terms of expanding the dealer network, and we will be working on awareness in the market, improving customer satisfaction... Everything is on track for the other cars in the India 2.0 project as well,” said Hollis.

Skoda Auto plans to increase the presence of its sales and service network to over 150 touchpoints by the end of this year, up from the current 110 touchpoints, with a focus on the rural markets.

EV strategy

The electric car strategy of the Volkswagen Group in India will start with products at the premium end, said Boparai. “The economics of electric cars, especially in the mass segment, depends on the quantum of incentives that are given. Clearly, we are not a country that can afford to subsidise private mobility (to) more than a certain extent. And therefore, the government has rightly focused the FAME-2 scheme at commercially registered vehicles that obviously doesn't encourage that much private ownership of electric cars but we will start from other group brands at the higher end. We will have 2-3 electric cars launched in the next fiscal.”

“We will bring in the Audi eTron as well as the eTron GT. And then we are looking to get some units of the Porsche Taycan. It's in very high demand globally - production can't meet the demand. So, we'll see if we can swing a few units towards our side,” said Boparai.

When asked about plans to enter the mass segment for electric cars, Boparai said that while the Volkswagen Group is making the “largest commitment among all OEMs” to electric mobility globally, it will bring mass products in electric cars to India when the economics of it work in the country. “We, unfortunately, do not have the luxury in our Indian operations to sustain products where we lose money.”

Published on March 18, 2021

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