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Skoda’s new model plan boosted by record sales

Fabia-lous: Skoda's light-car will begin arriving here later this year, but there is no word yet on whether the vRS hot hatch (seen left) will be part of the local line-up.

Fabia confirmed for Oz in '11 as Skoda eyes further growth with two all-new models

23 Mar 2011

BRIMMING with confidence after a record 762,000 sales worldwide in 2010, Skoda plans to maintain the momentum by adding two new models in Europe.

A city car – probably based on parent company Volkswagen Group’s Up concept – and a new small car to sit between the Fabia and Octavia have been confirmed by the Czech brand.

Skoda has also confirmed that its Australian line-up will gain the Volkswagen Polo-based Fabia light hatch this year, as well as the Yeti compact SUV that was locked in for local launch when it took to the stand at last year’s Sydney motor show.

Skoda Group Australia’s press and PR general manager Karl Gehling said the Fabia would arrive late in the year.

He said more details of the 2011 model roll out would emerge at next week’s Australian media launch of the DSG transmission-equipped Octavia Scout.

The Fabia received a mid-life facelift last year and its European line-up consists of five-door hatch, wagon and jacked-up Scout variants powered by VW-sourced engines ranging from a 44kW 1.2-litre petrol through to the hot vRS that shares the Polo GTI’s powerful 136kW engine.

Unsurprisingly, the Euro-spec Fabia is also available with a choice of diesel engines including a super-frugal three-cylinder ‘Greenline’ variant with idle-stop and brake energy recuperation technologies to return a Toyota Prius-bashing fuel efficiency figure of 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres and equalling the Toyota hybrid’s CO2 emissions of just 89 grams per kilometre.

Expect the Fabia to undercut its Polo sibling. For example, in Europe the price gap between the Fabia vRS and Polo GTI is equivalent to more than $4500.

29 center imageFrom top: Skoda Yeti, Skoda VisionD concept, Volkswagen E-Up! concept.

Looking further ahead, the new Skoda ‘City Car’, presumably based on the tiny Up from parent company VW, is set for launch in Europe this year, slotting below the Fabia in Skoda’s line-up.

Skoda chairman Winfried Vahland said of its planned sub-light contender: “This car is our answer to the increasingly strong demand for small affordable cars with low fuel consumption, and offers a new sales potential in Europe.”

Following in 2012 will be a small car to join the range between the Fabia and Octavia – which despite being physically smaller than Holden’s small-segment Cruze, is categorised in Australia as a mid-sizer.

Confusingly, Skoda’s UK press release says the new small car will be a hatchback while the company’s global website says it will be a sedan.

Mr Gehling was unable to offer clarification, saying: “No more details are currently available. All I can tell you is that more information will be released over the year.”

Both of the new models are expected to feature Skoda’s new design language, which debuted with the mid-sized, five-door VisionD design concept at the Geneva show earlier this month – tipped by Skoda insiders to be a preview of the next-generation Octavia.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Volkswagen Group’s involvement with the Skoda brand, and has begun with a flying start, with year-to-date global sales figures up a quarter on last year, at 132,100.

The growth is reflected in sales on Australian soil, up 26.2 per cent this year, to 246 units. At this rate, Skoda is on track to achieve close to 800,000 units globally by year’s end.

Not content with its current rate of record sales, Volkswagen’s budget brand has stated a goal of doubling its 2010 result to 1.5 million units by 2018, driven by an increased product line-up and aggressive marketing.

Mr Vahland said: “We do not want to be satisfied with what we have achieved and we will shift into a higher gear. Škoda has great potential and is on the verge of a growth spurt.”

While the company expects growth in its European homeland to remain slow, it is pinning hopes of achieving its 2018 target on “continued dynamic development in the emerging countries China, Russia and India”, which it anticipates will drive the global automotive market to an annual volume of 85 million units by the end of this decade.

Skoda sold 350,000 Octavias worldwide last year, 1271 of which – including the Scout pseudo-SUV variant – found homes in Australia.

After pulling out of Australia in 1983, Skoda returned to the local market in October 2007 with its Octavia and van-like Roomster, which proved to be a slow seller here and imports of which were axed last year.

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