A bold plan for the Czech member of Volkswagen Group to grow Down Under
Skoda is pushing an ambitious plan to double its Australian sales within the next five years. The niche Czech brand is currently recording a 12 per cent increase year-on-year, with sales to the end of October in excess of 5000 cars compared to just under 4500 for the same period last year.
A large part of this growth can be attributed to its pair of SUVs, the Kodiaq (1187 units) and Karoq (384 units) while the brand’s most popular car, the Octavia, continues to sell in decent numbers, registering 1609 sales year-to-date, an increase of just over six per cent over the same time last year.
Skoda board member and head of sales and marketing, Alain Favey, was in town this week to talk about the brand’s ambitious expansion plans.
“There’s many reasons for this positive trend,” he told media at a briefing in Sydney. “One of the reasons is clearly the way our products have been received over the last few years.
“We started with a real SUV offensive on the market. We see a big demand for SUVs, not only in Australia, but worldwide.”
Unsurprisingly, the SUV range will be further bolstered by a small SUV, based on the Vision X concept revealed at this year's Geneva motor show. That model is due in Australia in late 2020, while the company’s new hatchback, the Scala, is due in the first half of the 2020.
“I see the possibility to double our sales in the next five years. So that’s our target,” said Favey. “The strategy is not rocket science. It’s working on the one side on the product and on the other side on the brand, in parallel, in order to make our brand more appealing and consistent with what Australian customers want. So we will be bringing more emphasis on our SUV products.
“We have really big ambitions, especially with the Kodiaq to take a bigger slice of this growing SUV market in Australia.
“We will bring more cars to the Australian market. We really believe there is a lot of potential here.
“We will bring a lot of new products over the next few years, starting next year, really a sort of fireworks of new car launches. The Scala will be the first new car launched next year on the very important hatchback market. We believe this market is very, very strong, here in Australia and the rest of the world.”
Favey also outlined Skoda’s electro-mobility future, revealing the company will be launching a new Superb hybrid as well as a full-electric SUV in the next few years.
“We also have clearly, as a next big step, made a lot of effort in electro-mobility. Starting with the launch of a plug-in hybrid which will start in Europe at the end of next year with the Superb hybrid," he explained.
“And then we will follow up with a proper electric vehicle based on the MEB platform of the group, which will be launched in 2021… a model we previewed with our Vision E concept car already.
"The first car will be an SUV-looking car; It will be full electric and which we hope will be also in Australia. It’s clearly a next very important step for us. We believe there is a market.”
Skoda’s local boss Michael Irmer said he'd love to add the brand’s electric SUV to the local line-up.
“We would like to have electric vehicles in Australia. We know what Australians are. Australians love SUVs and Australians love performance, so when an electric car will come with an appearance of an SUV, as a performance four-wheel drive, I think it will be a great fit for the market.
“We do know that in Australia the electric car movement is not as far as other markets. But I am totally confident that with the love for technology and with the love for the design, that Australians will love it and adopt it as well. This technology will become mainstream.”
Skoda’s ambitious local expansion plans would see the company sell around 12,000 cars annually by 2023.