The long-awaited 2016 Skoda seven-seat SUV will be sent to Australia “for sure”, according to global chairman Winfried Vahland.
The Czech-made family hauler — also to be made in China for that market — will give the company a presence in the high-volume large SUV segment, and will offer buyers a European alternative to rivals such as the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Large SUVS under $70,000 account for almost 10 per cent of all new cars and commercials sold locally, given 107,675 units from this market were delivered last year, led by the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota Prado.
Skoda’s second SUV model after the Yeti will be based on similar MQB architecture as the new Superb launched at the Geneva motor show this week. See full details on the Superb here, given that you can expect some powertrain and technology commonality with the seven-seater.
The SUV will mark a continuation of the Superb’s more “emotional” design language — something Vahland insists is a crucial path for the brand to follow. The company will start rolling out more aggressive variants within its premium models as time goes by, Vahland added.
Given Skoda will also dip into parent company Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid technology on the Superb flagship, it seems a given that a PHEV version of the seven-seat SUV will also emerge down the track.
Some reports have speculated the SUV could be called the Snowman, though we deem that unlikely given feedback from our sources.
It was in Geneva this week where we met with Vahland, who brought up the Australian market and offered some thoughts on where Skoda’s local arm was at.
“It [the large SUV] will be produced for sure… All our products in future are for global markets, it will for sure come to Australia."
This is interesting, given a global rollout for Volkswagen's related seven-seat 'CrossBlue' SUV to be built in the US from 2016 is up in the air, publicly at least.
“We trust the Australian market," he added. "We recently had a discussion…I don’t see, let’s say, jumping growth, but I see we will continue development with Australia with new products and dealer development, it’s developing.
“But we don’t do like others, jump in and out, that’s not our style. What Opel did we don’t do,” he said, referencing Opel’s decision to pull the pin locally inside 12 months of launch.
Skoda sales grew 8.4 per cent last year in a down market, and nearly 40 per cent in December, on the back of the new Octavia and updated Yeti. With the new Scout and Fabia launching in 2015, expect this number to grow further as the year matures.
Rendering by Milos Dvorak.