An increasingly self-assured, more independent Skoda is on track to break through the “magic million” production barrier by 2010 as Volkswagen’s Czech brand ramps up Chinese, Indian and Russian production.
That is the bullish forecast from global marketing director Marcel Farreras, who claimed that the company’s personality continued to “positively infect” management transferring from other VW brands and countries.
He said: “Within the company we talk about colleagues from Germany and other places going native and having green blood (referring to Skoda’s corporate colours).”
The Spaniard, whose background includes launching Skoda in his own national market, added: “We generate enough profit to fund development costs for new products and we are proud of being self sufficient within the VW group.
“Last year we broke the 500,000-unit barrier with nearly 550,000 cars, representing a global 11.7% increase in sales with 34 markets achieving all time records. The Roomster is 40% above target and the magic million is not an impossible dream by the end of the decade thanks to our intercontinental assembly footprint.”
Speaking on the sidelines of its media launch here, Farreras revealed that the new larger, more spacious Fabia had: “raised our quality bar” and claimed that the Mlada Boleslav plant in the Czech Republic was “very successful” in internal VW group end-of-production-line quality audits compared with VW, Audi and Seat.
But he would not be drawn on whether or not Skoda ranked highest.
Implying that Skoda had elevated its brand above nominally rival Korean products Farreras said: “The Koreans have also raised their game but we will compete at different levels. We are emotionalising our value brand and brand values, with greater emphasis on design, packaging and innovation.”
With the small Yeti SUV due in 2009, Skoda’s range will extend to five models, compared to just two in the mid 1990s, while Farreras did not rule out a sub-B segment small car project “which is being studied intensely.”
Farreras acknowledged that the newly redesigned, larger Fabia creates: “potential space below” for a vehicle using the Joyster Geneva show concept for design parameters.
The Yeti will feature a Haldex four wheel drive powertrain system as well as front wheel drive and be “very similar” to the original design exercise.
Next June’s fully redesigned Superb, emphasised Farreras, is built on an extended Octavia platform and is part of a process of: “becoming more, not less, independent.”
According to Skoda UK director Chris Craft, the “stunning” Superb has been: “developed for Skoda by Skoda. It will be more distinctive and stand-alone, less derivative and compromising with more unique technology.”
Farreras added: “Our customers are open minded, but not fashion victims. They prefer conscious understatement and don’t feel the need to pay premium brand prices.”
Asked if he thought Skoda was becoming uncomfortably close to VW, he said: “It is about being pragmatic and rational. Issues like that are being discussed by our new board management.”