Skoda Set to Play a Role in India’s Green Mobility Space, Eyes EV Launch
Czech carmaker Skoda is planning to drive electric vehicles in the Indian market as it expects the green mobility segment to grow significantly in the country over the next few years, according to a senior official. business.
The automaker, which is seeing a turnaround in its domestic business, however, has no plans to enter the CNG space in the immediate future.
“We will have to (enter the EV segment) because we see a long-term future in India,” Skoda Auto India brand manager Zac Hollis told PTI when asked if the company is considering to launch electric vehicles (EV) in the country.
“We estimate that by 2030, 25-30% of the market will be electric cars and we need to make sure we play our part, so we will bring electric vehicles to market,” he added.
Hollis noted that group companies like Audi and Porsche have already started launching high-end electric vehicles in the Indian market.
“The group’s electric car launches allow us to see how the technology works in Indian road and weather conditions and it will also help us learn from the dealership aspect,” he began.
Asked about launch timelines, Hollis said, “I can’t give a timeline as it’s still under discussion.”
Regarding the introduction of CNG models, he said: “We don’t have any short-term plans for CNG…the problem is that with our platform, our technology and our TSI engines, we can’t not be competitive and a CNG car is mostly at the lower end of the market.
“I think that’s the question we need to look at…so no short-term plans, but we’ll keep looking at it.”
Many domestic automakers are expanding their CNG product lineup in the country amid rising fuel prices and declining diesel car sales.
Skoda, which now sells models like Kushaq, Slavia, Octavia, Superb and Kodiaq in the Indian market, is experiencing a recovery in business.
The automaker, which sold nearly 24,000 units last year in the domestic market, aims to triple its volume this year.
“We’re getting a solid response. The turnaround is clearly underway. We grew volume last year by 140%, we aim to triple our volumes this year from 2021,” Hollis said.
He noted that the company has taken various steps over the past few years to boost its presence and model lineup in the country.
“We have worked over the past three years to expand the dealer network to ensure we are represented in all regions, particularly in smaller cities. We have also increased our footprint in metropolitan cities,” said Hollis.
The company has expanded its sales network from 65 to 153 so far and it will hit the 180 mark before the end of the year, he added. The company also worked on improving customer satisfaction, Hollis said.
“People were saying you make great cars, but they’re expensive to buy, so the problem with Kushaq and Slavia is that they’re 95% localized. This is now reflected in our spare parts costs, as we do not import parts. So the cost of ownership is now much lower,” he said.
“So we’ve definitely become a lot more affordable as a brand. Slavia’s cost of ownership is the best in the segment, I guess we’ve managed to fix it…we’ve also worked a lot on customer satisfaction and it also works. Complaints over the past two years are down about 60 percent,” Hollis noted.
Skoda has been responsible for continuing the India 2.0 project on behalf of the Volkswagen Group since June 2018.
“So definitely we’ve evolved the brand and we’re ready for growth because the foundation is there, the product is there, the organization is ready,” Hollis said.
Asked about new product launches, he noted that the company has localized the platform and new body styles could be developed on it.
“Small SUVs are also possible, everything is under consideration,” said Hollis.
On the possibilities of launching a small car, he said: “We are going to work with the platform that we have which could also be used for a car under four meters… everything is under study because the local production is there”. production, he said the company is entering the third shift at its manufacturing facility and will soon be able to reach full capacity utilization.
Regarding the chip shortage, Hollis noted that the company is receiving strong support from parent companies in Germany and the Czech Republic.
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