Skoda India plans product refreshes to sustain double digit growth in 2023
With India becoming Skoda Auto's third-largest market in the world, the carmaker is aiming to sustain the strong growth momentum in 2023 led by slew of product updates and launches. The maker of Slavia sedan and Kushaq SUV is set to end 2022 with sales of over 50,000 units, its highest ever annual sales since its inception, and plans to sell over 60,000 units in 2023.
- More CKD and CBU products on the cards going ahead
- Skoda India to focus more on EVs than hybrids
Up to 5 new or updated Skodas coming to India
With an all-new compact SUV slated only by 2025, Skoda is planning at least three to five new product interventions in the coming 12 months to sustain the traction for the brand.
Apart from introducing the model year changes in Kushaq and Slavia, the company will be introducing the Enyaq EV, a new Superb, as well as some limited-edition models like the Octavia RS iV that are being explored.
Although local production of the Superb and Octavia sedans is likely to be discontinued, the company will bring the models in as completely knocked down (CKD) units or completely built unit (CBU) imports to cater to the demand in those segments. Also, the company is expecting higher allocation for its top-of-the-line premium Kodiaq SUV in 2023, which will be able to capitalise on the strong demand in the high end market.
Petr Solc, the brand director for Skoda Auto India, who was part of the core team that defined the India 2.0 roadmap, says the country has become a “very strong pillar” of growth for the headquarters and that it will continue to grow its strategic importance in the region as an exports hub. Solc says, despite the disruption of COVID-19 over the last few years, India has bounced back impressively, much faster than many of the markets.
“We have immense confidence in the Indian economy and its strength, and with our localised portfolio, we aim to participate in this strong growth story. We would be growing the volumes towards 50,000 cars in 2022 and with two fully localised models available for the entire year. we would like to grow in double digits in 2023," added Solc. While the volumes have doubled in the last one year, the company has struggled to supply vehicles in the marketplace. Solc says that the volatility on monthly volumes is largely linked to supply side challenges, but there is an improvement expected in the coming months.
"The supply situation looks better in November and December and even in Q1 2023, so our plan is to regain the momentum. The number of bookings is exceeding the production and the demand momentum is strong. We could have sold 2,000 more cars in the previous month, but that got added to bookings. With improved supplies we hope to deliver more cars," he assured.
Alternatives powertrains not off the table
While Skoda Auto has a fresh range of products in the market, lack of alternate powertrains beyond petrol reduces the growth potential. While the parent Volkswagen Group has given up on diesel in India, the options of hybrids, electric and CNG are being well-capitalised by the rivals.
When queried by Autocar India on the potential of bringing in alternate powertrains, Solc explained Skoda is not saying no to any opportunity, as long as it makes commercial sense.
“We do have hybrids, EVs in our portfolio in Europe, we are exploring what to bring where. Hybrids are bought in some markets as a bridge, but in some markets, we are directly moving to EVs. The potential volumes define the business case, it has to make commercial sense. The market like India is fast evolving towards electrification. In terms of investment, we prefer to move straight to EVs,” he added.