Skoda's India-specific sub-four-metre SUV, EV plans detailed
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Skoda brand in Vietnam, Martin Jahn, Board Member for sales and marketing at Skoda Auto, gave OVERDRIVE some deep insights into the firm's plans for the Indian market going forward.
Skoda-VW sub-four-meter SUV India debut by late 2024-early 2025
With the next leg of Skoda's India 2.0 plan, the focus will be on cracking a more price-sensitive, mass-market segment with a sub-four-metre SUV. This model is set to debut by late 2024 or early 2025 in India. Expectedly, there will be Skoda and Volkswagen-branded versions of this SUV.
Jahn tells us that the Skoda will stick to the MQB architecture for the sub-four-metre SUV. The company will use a different variant of this architecture for this new model, an even more low-cost India-specific architecture isn't viable. The MQB architecture's flexibility, its proven effectiveness and the high levels of localization it has managed to achieve with the likes of the Slavia and Kushaq give Skoda the confidence to continue to use this architecture for the sub-four-metre SUV.
Image for reference
This makes it fair to assume that quite a few components will be shared with the likes of the Slavia and Kushaq. So expect to see the localized 1.0-litre turbo-petrol with the 6-speed manual and torque-converter gearboxes. A good list of features is also expected as is a high degree of safety.
This sub-four-metre also has the potential to be a global model, said Jahn. While the sub-four-metre length restriction is typically Indian, Skoda will still look at the viability of exporting this SUV to various developing markets.
Skoda-VW low-cost EV to be priced between Rs 13 to 18 lakh, Enyaq launch confirmed
A more ambitious plan for Skoda for India is that of a low-cost EV. The company is looking at an aggressive price tag for this electric car, which is likely to be an SUV, of between Rs 13 to 18 lakh. To keep up with the competition, this EV will be heavily localized in India.
Skoda will not rework the MQB for this EV but will either use the MEB EV architecture in its entry-level MEB21G guise or might even partner with another manufacturer for this venture. The MEB architecture will be reworked like the MQB-A0-IN to dimensions to suit the Indian market as well as to accept high levels of local content.
The Volkswagen Group already has a relationship with Mahindra to supply EV components for the Indian carmaker's upcoming INGLO-based EVs and it would make sense to deepen this further to share costs and technology in developing a low-cost EV.
Jahn explains that the biggest hurdle facing this model currently is achieving a package that is priced well but is also profitable. Most entry-level EVs in the West aren't profitable, largely due to the high cost of batteries. Skoda too is working on a solution to fix this issue, the idea seems to be to offer practical range while still being priced well. To this end, the company is open to all possibilities including tie-ups with the local lithium-ion cell manufacturing plans in the works currently in India.
The EV plan is still in a nascent stage, only expected to come to fruition by 2025. While Tata Motors has a lead at this point in this segment, the next couple of years will see quite a few carmakers enter or widen their presence in this segment, most notably Mahindra, Hyundai-Kia and Maruti Suzuki-Toyota. Like with the sub-four-metre SUV, there will be a Volkswagen-badged version of this SUV.
Alongside this, Jahn also confirmed that Skoda will launch the Enyaq iV electric SUV in the Indian market in the near future. This will be a halo model to sit above the Skoda Kodiaq and will most likely be a CBU to compete with the various EV offerings in the Rs 50 lakh plus segment.
India a manufacturing hub for Skoda globally
Aside from its ambitions in the local market, India is now of immense importance to Skoda Auto in the global scheme of things. India is already the second-largest market for Skoda globally, and the company is now looking to cash in on the high levels of manufacturing self-sufficiency and low cost structures it has managed to achieve in India. The current India 2.0 models already have opened up new markets for Skoda Auto. Vietnam is one such example where kits will be exported from India for local assembly. Eventually, Vietnam will turn into Skoda's hub for the ASEAN region supported by its Indian infrastructure.
Also helping fuel India's prominence are the models being developed here. As Europe moves further away from affordable cars, the low-cost models being developed here in India give Skoda a bank of products to sell in markets outside of Europe. To this end, the next generations of the Slavia and Kushaq will also be developed as global models taking into account markets like Latin America, Africa and SE Asia.
Starts Rs 34.99 Lakhs
- 2023 Maruti Suzuki Invicto vs Toyota Innova Hycross comparison review - Who did it better?
- Nissan Magnite EZ-Shift review - is the AMT any good?
- Maruti Suzuki expected to launch 3 new cars in 2024
- 2024 Hyundai Creta facelift spied testing again
- New Triumph Thruxton 400 cafe racer spotted: What to expect?