There are some very ambitious sales targets floating around the automotive industry at the moment, even with the prospect of another recession looming.
Two in particular that have caught my interest are Jeep and Skoda. The Fiat-owned SUV firm plans to increase its European sales eight-fold on 2010’s 15,000 units to 125,000 a year by 2014, while Volkswagen Group’s Czech subsidiary plans to double 2010’s sales to 1.5 million units by 2018.
Jeep’s plans centre on taking advantage of Fiat’s European distribution network and a greatly expanded dealer network, as well as more products.
A ‘supermini SUV’ and Compass/Patriot replacement are the two key models in realising this expansion, along with vast improvements to its other models (chiefly the Grand Cherokee) and offering more models with two-wheel drive.
Skoda, meanwhile, is targeting new products in volume segments, such as a new MPV, large SUV, the production version of MissionL, and, of course, its version of the VW Up and its associated spin-offs.
It sees real potential to expand in emerging markets such as China, India and Russia and is planning localised versions of all its future models as a result.
So which approach is right? As endearing as the European bosses at Jeep are, it’s hard to see them turnaround the company in just three years. Sales in 2011 look like ending up at around 22,500 units, so that’s another 100,000 to find in three years.
And I can’t see the new products being launched quickly enough to match that demand, even if more dealers are there to sell them and the production channels and distribution network can meet it.
Skoda, meanwhile, is an entirely different proposition. Everything the firm has touched in recent years has turned to gold and, with plenty of new products filling in gaping holes in its model line-up coming over the seven-year period before 2018 coupled with its dominance in emerging markets, it could end up that the 1.5m figure proved to be conservative.
Question is, just how big will Volkswagen allow Skoda to get?