Skoda’s oft-mooted full-sized SUV is unlikely to appear before 2016 at the earliest, and will be part of the manufacturer’s intensive push to take its global sales to 1.5 million cars by 2018.
The new offering – which would be a bigger relation to the Yeti – has yet to be formally signed off, but there is plenty of enthusiasm for the project among the Czech firm’s chiefs.
They have noted the success of vehicles such as the Kia Sorento, as well as the appetite among Skoda’s own Chinese customers for cars bigger than the Yeti. A long-wheelbase version of the Yeti has been developed specifically for China because customers there felt the European-spec model was too short for their tastes.
Speaking at the launch of the new Skoda Octavia in Portugal, Skoda chief executive Winfried Vahland said: “A big SUV is very important for Skoda on a global scale; maybe more so in Asia than in Europe because Europe tends to prefer smaller SUVs.”
Skoda is currently in the middle of a major product offensive during which it is launching a new or facelifted model every sixth months on average. Asked whether a large SUV forms part of that model plan, Wahland said: “It would be part of the plan, yes, but not before 2015. After then I see a window [for the car].”
Autocar understands that the new SUV could spawn five and seven-seat variants, albeit with the same dimensions, and would most likely be based on the underpinnings of the Volkswagen Touareg. It would be a fully independent model to the existing Yeti and not share the existing car’s name.
Developing a new SUV would be preferable to a new MPV product because European customers are increasingly favouring sports utility vehicles, and there’s little or no market for MPVs in either China or Russia.
Strong sales growth in both territories, as well as continued growth in its European stronghold, is seen as an important part of Skoda’s aim to grow its global sales to 1.5 million cars per year by 2018, from last year’s total of 939,200.