With the India 2.0 program hitting the right spot, the Czech brand has achieved record sales numbers in 2022, and has announced more ambitious initiatives for the Indian market.
After almost two decades of being in the Indian market, Skoda back in 2020 announced their first concentrated focus for the market, localising a global platform for India and designing products that were to be designed for the Indian market alone. And the dedicated focus on India has borne fruit, as demand for both the Kushaq SUV and Slavia sedan has made customers line up at dealerships. While the brand has discontinued diesel engines in India, demand for their petrol options has been strong. As far as figures are concerned, with over 37,568 cars sold in India between January to August 2022, Skoda India has achieved their best ever sales figures in the country and is on track to double their sales from their 2021 sales performance.
Speaking at a global press event in Prague, Klaus Zellmer, the newly appointed global CEO of Skoda Auto mentioned how India is a priority market for the brand, and with the success of the India 2.0 program, more vehicles lunches and programs are lined up for India, as with its current performance the market is now the third largest market worldwide for the brand. He mentioned that the next vehicle program for India is the India 2.5 program which involves the development of a sub-4 metre SUV that will be an important product for the brand, keeping in mind the scale of the SUV segment and the potential sales numbers. However, he refused to divulge an exact timeline for when Indian customers can expect the SUV to go on sale. While currently Skoda products currently target about 20% of the automotive market in India, over the next few years, the brand aims to double that and reach a wider section of customers in India.
More interestingly, beginning 2023, we will start to see more products reach the Indian market from the Skoda global portfolio. Both a new-generation Superb and Kodiaq are on track to be launched in 2023, but it is not clear if both will make it to the Indian market. Given the tough second phase of Bharat 6 emission norms being implemented soon in India, some ICE products might not make financial sense for the brand, given their limited sales in the Indian market. However, the brand will launch its EV range in India in 2023, and this is expected to be spearheaded by the Enyaq Coupe electric SUV. The electric vehicles, in the initial phase, will be imported as fully-built units for sale in India. However, with Mahindra working on localising the MEB electric car platform of the Skoda-VW Group as part of their partnership, hopes are that at a later date EVs from the Skoda brand can be manufactured in India itself, much like the MQB platform is manufactured in India currently.
A newer generation of the Octavia is also expected in 2024 globally, but once again, whether it will make it to India or not is still undecided. However, speciality versions of the Octavia – such as the RS iV – are also being considered for the Indian market for 2023, with much depending on the new Bharat Stage 6 norms and their implementation.
Speaking at the interaction, Klaus Zellmer said “Apart from this, localizing core MEB components in India is pivotal for scale. This is something that is being facilitated by the agreement for VW Group with Mahindra for them to use MEB components. All possibilities and associations are being looked at, to best suit the customer's 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.”