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Yeti kicks off new phase for Skoda

Big foot: Skoda's Yeti opens the door for a new, younger clientele.

Armed with an appealing compact SUV, the only way up is down for the VW Czech brand

19 Oct 2010

SKODA’S new Yeti will bring younger buyers to the Czech brand in Australia, kicking off a downmarket drive that eventually will encapsulate new small and light car offerings.

Revealing the strategy to GoAuto at the Australian International Motor Show last week, head of Skoda Australia Matthew Wiesner told GoAuto that the chunky compact SUV should take sales up to a new level for the brand that returned to this country exactly three years ago.

The Yeti, based on the Golf small car and related to the Volkswagen Tiguan, is a Czech built five-seater SUV to be made available in mid-2011.

Expected to span the $25,000-$40,000 compact SUV class, it will be offered with a 103TDI 2.0-litre common rail turbo-diesel and 77TSI 1.2-litre turbo-charged petrol unit in four-wheel drive guise, as well as a front-drive entry-level model in 77TSI format.

“The Yeti has had absolute priority in regards to the next step from a product point of view,” Mr Wiesner said.

“In a full year with the full model range – 2WD and 4WD – it will be our best seller. And further down the track we will look at other drivetrain options (to keep the Yeti competitive).”

29 center imageWhile Mr Wiesner reiterated that Skoda was here to stay in Australia, with sales to the end of September up 49 per cent compared with the same time last year, the sort of growth the brand needs to be sustainable could not happen until a full model range arrived – with the Yeti being only the beginning.

“Skoda as a brand has a job to do, and it doesn’t mean it stays with the product that you know – not at all,” he said.

“There are glaring opportunities, and has aggressive plans to grow over the next five years.

“In our market it is the small-car segment. After five years, we will want to be represented in the core markets – light, small, medium, large and SUV.

“The next step is something like the Fabia – and that’s our core focus. And we’ll keep building from there.

“In Australia, the awareness has evolved pretty quickly, and now it’s a matter of (increasing product). (Looking at the current medium (Octavia) and large car (Superb) range, fleets dominate one and the other is very conservative.

“The obvious areas we need to be is in the light and small for the massive resale opportunities, as well as in compact SUVs – which is up 20 per cent this year.” Besides the Yeti, the latter will be bolstered in the first quarter of next year by the delayed arrival of the Octavia Scout DSG – bringing an automatic transmission to the Subaru Outback competitor for the first time.

Furthermore, the hitherto diesel-only powered Scout is set to receive petrol power in the form of a 118TSI 1.4-litre Twincharge engine.

“From what we are hearing, probably about 90 per cent of the volume in the Outback segment would be automatic. So when we add DSG to that we are going to have a bit of fun.” Mr Wiesner said that since its 2007 launch in Australia Skoda has been surprisingly well received as an upper mainstream player.

Now it will be up to the Yeti, followed by the Fabia (expected this time next year, if at all), an all-new Octavia (due in 2013) and a host of other more-affordable models, to fuel the marque’s growth in Australia.

“Certainly the way the brand is evolving and the way the Superb is starting to work well, we’re now selling $40,000 to $60,000 Skodas, and we can’t get enough of them,” Mr Wiesner said.

“So I think the brand from that point of view is being received pretty well, with people willing to pay those sort of dollars.

“And it was always going to be hard to establish ourselves when we launched, but now as we move down to a younger audience we will be able to free ourselves up.”

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