Currently reading: Skoda boss plays down plans to reposition as budget brand
CEO Bernhard Maier also hinted that the Czech brand is interested in producing smaller, entry-level cars
James Attwood, digital editor
News
2 mins read
28 October 2019

Skoda boss Bernhard Maier has played down reports that Volkswagen Group bosses want the Czech brand to become more budget-oriented in the future – but has hinted that the firm is interested in looking into developing entry-level models.

As reported by Autocar, the prospect of Skoda effectively becoming the Group’s entry-level brand is understood to have been considered by chief Herbert Diess as part of a number of moves to increase differentiation between its brands. Those plans could also involve Seat being rebranded as its premium performance division, Cupra.

Asked about the reports at the Smart Mobility Summit in Israel, where he is giving the key-note address, Maier said: “We have a clear brand strategy, which was made three years ago, and this is still correct.

"Skoda has a clear brand picture, probably one of the clearest in the market. We stand for value for money, for reliability, for roominess, for more car for the money. We always position our cars at the very end of the relevant segments so you get, say, an A-class car with an A-plus car approach, and this is all combined now with our very interesting future-oriented crystalline design language rooted in the Czech Republic.

“All this together means something like smart understatement, which has helped us to find customers. This is a value package which many of our customers appreciate, and we will continue like this.”

However, Maier did suggest that Skoda could look at launching new entry-level models – but only if it can find more production capacity. The firm is currently unable to meet demand for its range, particularly its successful SUV trio.

“What we face, especially in Europe, is that the demand for our cars is still higher than supply,” added Maier. “We are looking for new production facilities, but there’s no room for improvement in our current facilities, so we need new capacity to meet our demand. Once we have more capacity, we will also be able to tackle more of the entry segments, which we will be happy to do.”

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Maier didn't specify what sort of model that could entail. Skoda is leading the Volkswagen Group’s push in the India and other developing countries, where small A-segment models remain popular. In Europe, its smallest car is the recently launched electric Citigo-e iV.

The Volkswagen Group is also developing a new entry-level electric model on the MEB platform, which it aims to launch before 2023. Development of that model is being led by Seat, but it will also spawn Volkswagen and Skoda versions.

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11

28 October 2019

From a UK perspective, I've always thought that the VW Group had too many brands that are difficult to differentiate, with them all treading on each others' toes.  All there seems to be between Skoda and VW models is that Skodas are bigger and VWs have marginally classier interiors.  Equally, there is much overlap between VWs and Audis - I always thought VW trying to move into A8 territory with the Phaeton was a mistake.  As for Seat - how long has it been mooted that it should become the sporty Alfa Romeo of the group?  That is still a work in progress as it continues to produce models not far off from Skodas.  I understand that in other markets, the brands might be perceived differently.  Seats are probably the first choice for patriotic Spaniards, the Phaeton was apparently popular in China and I would imagine that Skodas provide a full range in countries where the rest of the Group's badges are hardly known.  I'm glad I'm not the head of the VW Group trying to sort this all out - no one seems to have managed it yet!

28 October 2019

Its good to hear a manufacturer talking about entry level vehicles and A-segment models. Most of the attention nowadays seems to be on every last version of an SUV, or premium models, a strategy which doesn't offer anything of interest to the new or young driver. Skoda is one of the few who've mentioned how important the A-segment can be for attracting buyers to the brand, something that all manufacturers used to think was important, even if the profitability was lower with those vehicles: If those buyers were happy with what they were offered they were more likely to stay with the manufacturer as their needs changed. Surely there's still some time left for all these manufacturers to think rather more long-term than they do at present.

28 October 2019

My wife, who has little interest in cars, has recently considered a Skoda due to Sir Wiggins and Paloma Faith promoting their products. Prior to this her views on Skoda were very much stuck in the 1980s.  In the market for a small SUV, the Kamiq looked appealing as it has a more luxurious interior than the VW T-Cross (not what you'd expect from a Skoda) and can be specified with options like a panoramic roof.  However, was shocked to find that we easily got the base price of a 1.0 Kamiq up to over £27k, and the standard spec (even top of range SEL) is missing many things the T-Cross includes as standard.  While the Kamiq is bigger, the T-Cross wins on practicality as the rear seats slide. 

It's a similar story for the Scala, whereas the Octavia still includes everything you need in mid-range trim and represents the better deal.  I hope this trend doesn't continue as the previous strategy of 'bigger VW, less money' has served them well.

With recent VW (T-Roc, T-Cross) and Audi (A1, Q2) models losing some of their vaunted interior quality, I do struggle a bit with what Skoda stands for these days.  Perhaps it's due to the brand being positioned differently in other parts of the world.

28 October 2019
00se7en wrote:

It's a similar story for the Scala, whereas the Octavia still includes everything you need in mid-range trim and represents the better deal.  I hope this trend doesn't continue as the previous strategy of 'bigger VW, less money' has served them well.

With recent VW (T-Roc, T-Cross) and Audi (A1, Q2) models losing some of their vaunted interior quality, I do struggle a bit with what Skoda stands for these days.  Perhaps it's due to the brand being positioned differently in other parts of the world.

Agree with what you say but the Scala / Octavia relationship is unfair. Scala is a brand new model where as the current Octavia model is end-of-life with it's replacement just around the corner.

Yes it's becoming more difficult to differentiate the brands but not sure it's Skoda moving up market more VW moving down market. We have both an Octavia and a Ateca - the only 'cheap' thing about Octavia is the lack of soundproofing. The Ateca on the otherhand? It's equal in quality of to the Tiguan, the Tiguan perhaps only offering more personalisation via the options list.

Audi? Well the quality has always been a step up from the others but everything seems to be an optional extra these days on to an already hefty list price. Can't speak for leasing but from the private motorists point of view, Audi have priced themselves out the game.

Whatever the relationship between brands is, if Skoda can't produce enough cars to meet orders then they must be doing something right.

28 October 2019
scotty5 wrote:

Whatever the relationship between brands is, if Skoda can't produce enough cars to meet orders then they must be doing something right.

You are right, I guess what I mean is that the whole VAG group strategy is harder to understand than it was a few years ago.  If you are happy with standard spec, most Skodas generally good value.

What surprised me is how close in price the Kamiq is to the Karoq if you match the spec.

Leasing an Audi will be even worse as they normally charge for options over the life of the lease.  I suspect most Audis are sold on PCP where the higher residual value lowers the monthly cost, or are leasing higher spec models that include everything.  For that reason I'm leasing a Tiguan SEL which comes with everything as standard.

28 October 2019

The problem that has existed for ages is that VAG suffers from "competetive dad syndrome" with VW being the dad.

28 October 2019
Skoda offer it in bucket loads . There are some trims to avoid that bump up the price but generally you get more for hard earned cash than with it's sibling and rival brands. Reliability is strong , I've had 2 small faults with my 3 Skodas, fixed under warranty , no questions asked. People are happily buying them still.

There's a great owners forum to boot. Lots of happy people their as well...

Hooefully moving towards fully electric "Skateboard" platforms will give all the brands space to develop original and different frocks to a put on them, and not VW

28 October 2019

To me the VAG SUV strategy is a mess, as the VW, Skoda and Seat models are too close to each other, especially with the latter  2 brands. PSA seem to be better at creating separate but related SUVs using the same platform.

28 October 2019
I thought a few years ago it was thought that Skoda were trying to occupy the space of Volvo ie sub premium but better than mass market , and it is oddly coincidental that their name is now spaced out S K O D A just like their competitors V O L V O ...if I'm being honest I find in particular the Skoda superb estate a far better resolved design and more space efficient than the the Volvo V90 .

29 October 2019
Sundym wrote:

I thought a few years ago it was thought that Skoda were trying to occupy the space of Volvo ie sub premium but better than mass market , and it is oddly coincidental that their name is now spaced out S K O D A just like their competitors V O L V O ...if I'm being honest I find in particular the Skoda superb estate a far better resolved design and more space efficient than the the Volvo V90 .

Surely vw is the sub premium. As for Volvo, I've always thought of the large Swedish cars, 240/740/940 etc as being premium, they were like old mercs, solid and dependable, and if you look at contemporary reviews they were good to drive, definitely worthy of premium status, the Dutch built smaller Volvo's, which was technically a different company, were less well built, the 300/400 s/V40 etc. Also good to drive and we'll built and were still a cut above mainstream so were probably like VW, sub premium.

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