Klaus Zellmer, the new CEO of SKODA Auto, is already busy juggling multiple changes and new product initiatives. He just unveiled the Czech company’s new brand identity, a new logo and a corporate identity update that is meant to reflect the company’s transformation from the ICE age to the EV era. And this is a key part of the ‘SKODA Strategy 2030’ that will see the brand’s portfolio transition to electrics.
Electric mobility will be the prime focus for SKODA worldwide, even though there will be a balance between ICE vehicles and EVs for India, a market that will witness slower adoption of electrics, feels Zellmer.
SKODA plans to invest euro 5.6 billion in furthering electrification of its vehicle portfolio. That includes three new BEVs (battery electric vehicles) - a small BEV, a compact SUV and a 7-seater - to be launched by 2026. The company has sold over 70,000 Enyaq iV SUVs and coupes - its current BEV for Europe. The Enyaq iV is headed to India too; a couple of test mules have been running on Indian roads for validation and testing purposes.
In the meantime, the Indian subsidiary has become the third biggest market for SKODA worldwide and has even set a sales record for the first eight months of the year, selling 37,568 vehicles, its highest ever in the country. Almost 90 per cent of those were either Kushaq or Slavia, the two vehicles that were born out of the India 2.0 project. While confirming that the Enyaq iV will be SKODA’s first BEV to be launched in India, Zellmer said the India 2.0 project will also move forward and potentially help SKODA address a larger section of the Indian market, including segments and body styles that it is not currently present in.
Klaus Zellmer spoke to a small selection of Indian journalists at the sidelines of the brand showcase earlier this week in Prague, where the company also unveiled the new VISION 7S, a concept 7-seater BEV. Excerpts from the interaction:
India sales performance
“We have recorded our biggest year ever in India within the first eight months of 2022. These outstanding results have enabled India to rank among the top three markets for ŠKODA AUTO globally in the first half of this year. A big contribution to fulfilling our global ambitions is coming from India. We are on track to more than double our sales in 2022 over last year.”
“We must grow step by step. Given our current market share and the fact that resources need to be optimised, first, we need to consolidate our INDIA 2.0 project, and then finalise the next steps.
It is really about capacity, available resources, and the transformation that the society, the market, and our group are going through. All these factors will be the basis for deciding the way forward. Today, ŠKODA products address 20 per cent of the Indian market, in terms of the vehicle segments we are present in. We aim to more than double this in the mid-term.”
On electric mobility
“ŠKODA’s route for electric vehicles (EVs) in India will most likely be -- first fully built units (FBUs), then parts and components (assembly), and eventually local production, depending on how quickly the market matures and the ecos-ystem develops, especially the charging infrastructure. Apart from this, localising core MEB components in India is pivotal for scale. This is something that is facilitated by the agreement for VW Group with Mahindra, for the latter to use MEB platform components. All possibilities and associations are being looked at, to best suit customer needs.
The way forward for ŠKODA in India will be a balance between ICE and EVs. In the immediate future our portfolio will be ICE-oriented, but we have already brought in some ŠKODA ENYAQs to India, which are being tested across the country.”