German automobile manufacturer, Volkswagen (VW) Group, which also owns Czech-based car maker Skoda Auto, on Thursday said the company will focus on electric vehicles rather than hybrids in the long term, even though import duties are among the highest here.

“Hybrid vehicles, we as a group believe is not sustainable solution. Hybrid vehicles for a medium term is a step to satisfy the CO2 norms, but it becomes too expensive – the vehicle complexity – you have to manage both electric drivetrain as well as internal combustion engine (ICE)’s not a long-term solution,” Gurpratap Boparai, Managing Director of Skoda Auto Volkswagen India, told BusinessLine.

Speaking on the sidelines of unveiling of Skoda Slavia, a sedan car which will be launched early next year, he said the VW Group has started with the high-end (luxury) cars and already sold out EV models such as the Audi e-tron till the end of January 2022 and also the Porsche Taycan with its first batch.

He said the Group will look at further steps, be it assembly or local manufacturing, in due course. But, for the EVs to really grow and match with the ICE vehicles, there needs to be reduction in duties. He said the high-end cars come with great technology and till local manufacturing takes place, the duties structures, which are becoming stumbling blocks, need to be addressed.

Slavia’s appeal

Speaking about the Slavia, Boparai said it represents a new growth area for Skoda Auto and the Slavia will appeal to discerning customers in India, and will also be appreciated in markets around the world.

“We are confident that the Skoda Slavia will continue the benchmarks set by the Octavia and Superb, and will help us to further strengthen our dominance in the segment. The successful start of the India 2.0 project with the Kushaq truly highlights what can be achieved with global collaboration here in India. In addition to the increasingly sought-after SUVs, the premium sedan segment offers tremendous potential, and it’s a territory that we have made our own. The sophisticated Slavia stands for prestige and style,” he said.

Localisation level

The Slavia has a localisation level of up to 95 per cent and will be powered by Skoda’s TSI engines. It will be competing with the likes of Honda City and Hyundai Verna in the mid-size sedan market.