Skoda CEO Thomas Schäfer has described 2021 as “one of the most challenging years in [the car maker’s] history”, reporting a global sales decrease of 12.9% to 878,200 units.
It means the Czech firm failed to sell more than one million cars for the first time in eight years.
Amid the semiconductor crisis and Covid pandemic that have affected the entire industry, almost every market was down for Skoda with one outlier: India, where sales increased 108.9% compared with 2020 thanks to the introduction of the Kushaq mid-sized SUV.
Chinese sales were hit hardest with deliveries down 58.8%, while Western Europe was down a relatively modest 5.9% to 409,000 vehicles. The UK remains important for Skoda as the fifth-most-popular market, behind Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic and China. A total of 55,800 Skodas were delivered in the UK in 2021 compared to 58,700 vehicles the previous year.
However, Skoda still achieved double-digit growth in a handful of smaller-volume countries: Portugal (1800 vehicles, up 37.4%), Norway (9800 vehicles, up 36.9%), Ireland (9100 vehicles, up 21.8%), the Netherlands (19,300 vehicles, up 19.0%) and Spain (24,600 vehicles, up 17.0%).
The Skoda Octavia continues to be the firm’s biggest seller, but sales dropped 22%. The models least affected by the downturn were the Skoda Fabia and Skoda Kamiq, whose deliveries dropped 6.0% and 6.1% respectively.
It was a slightly different picture for the UK, where the Karoq outsold the Octavia. The Fabia and Kamiq held third and fourth positions respectively.
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Despite the challenges, Skoda described “a strong start” for its first stand-alone electric vehicle, the Skoda Enyaq iV, with almost 45,000 deliveries in 2021.
Schäfer said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and the shortage of semiconductors have significantly slowed down our growth. Thanks to the flexibility and resourcefulness of the Skoda team, as well as the close cooperation with our suppliers, we managed to steer the company through the year successfully and deliver a respectable result.
“We expect the semiconductor supply situation to gradually ease in the second half of the year. I am looking ahead with confidence; we have many new products in the pipeline, including the Enyaq Coupe iV, we are experiencing very high customer demand, and we have a highly motivated team. Over the long term, the company is in an excellent position to emerge stronger from the transformation process.”