The Czech brand, which is leading Volkswagen group’s Rs 8,000 crore investments in India, is also studying the feasibility of an all-new mini/compact SUV for the country, which will be under 4 meters in length due to the lower GST duty the smaller size attracts.
This at a time when work has already begun to get electrics such as the Enyaq to the market through the import route, even as the company studies local assembly of greens at a later stage.
Skoda is eyeing a comeback in India through the new model strategy, which also results in a twin model being assigned for the VW brand as part of platform/model sharing plans (like Slavia, VW is also getting a premium sedan).
Zac Hollis, brand director for Skoda in India, told TOI that the company expects a strong push to its sales volumes in India on the back of the Kushaq, and now the Slavia.
“We had more than doubled our annual volumes in India last year, growing from 10,387 units in 2020 to 23,858 units in 2021. This year, we are looking to treble our volumes and cross 70,000 units, which should be the highest number that the company has done in India.”
The Slavia comes strapped with two petrol engines — 1-litre and 1.5-litre – and undercuts the new-gen Honda City by almost Rs 50,000.
To give comfort to Slavia buyers who are worried about low ground clearance on sedans, Skoda has worked out a 179mm clearance for the model, which is at a striking distance to those offered by some SUVs.
Hollis said that the India-specific platform has the potential to create new body styles, which the company is now studying. Asked specifically about a compact SUV below the Kushaq, he said, “There are a lot of discussions around many such possibilities. The platform has been localized, and we have to see business case with different body styles.”
But while it drives in new models, the bigger challenge for Skoda will be to assure customers on having a trusted dealer network and affordable spare parts pricing. The two issues had seen the brand take a severe beating in India earlier, which had resulted in a sharp dip on Skoda’s sales volumes as it had also reduced its retail presence across the country.
However, Hollis said that the company is not only growing its sales and service network once again, but has also ensured a “comfortable and transparent” parts pricing through localization of components. “We have not hesitated to move out dealers who were not performing well. Also, the cost of ownership on Skoda cars is highly competitive.”
After from the cars developed on the new platform, Skoda also sells luxury models such as Octavia and Superb sedans, and the Kodiaq SUV.