The Volkswagen-owned Czechoslovakian car company Skoda is to launch locally-assembled versions of its mid-sized Octavia five-door hatchback in India early in September.

Skoda Auto India, established in December 1999, will build the cars from CKD and SKD kits at its new Aurangabad plant.

The Skoda Octavia

Priced from just over one million rupees (about $US23,400), the diesel version, powered by a turbocharged 1.9-litre Volkswagen-designed engine, will arrive first, followed a few months later by a two-litre petrol model, also VW-powered.

Indians will eventually be able to choose from a full range of modern Skoda models as there are also plans to launch the smaller Fabia five-door hatchback, four-door Fabia saloon, five-door Fabia Combi (a five-door ‘fastback’ station wagon derivative of the hatchback) and an Octavia five-door with the luxury Laurent & Klements leather trim/equipment package named after Skoda’s founders.

The Aurangabad factory, which represents a VW Group investment of US$56 million, will initially assemble just 20 cars per day.

Skoda Auto India has modest launch aims; it has set a sales target of only 500-600 units from launch until the end of the year.

However, the company has ambitious plans.

In an interview with AutoAsia Online late last year, the head of Volkswagen AG's Asia-Pacific operations, Stefan Jacoby, projected much higher output levels before long. "[We are] aiming to manufacture and deliver 10,000 units per year," he said.

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