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Kodiaq will not outsell Octavia: Skoda

Kodiaq moment: Sketches of the forthcoming new Kodiaq seven-seat SUV show a clear resemblance to the VisionS concept shown at Geneva earlier this year.

High hopes Skoda’s all-new seven-seat SUV but brand recognition takes time: Irmer

Skoda logo28 Jun 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

SKODA has admitted the forthcoming seven-seat Kodiaq SUV will take time to establish itself in the Australian marketplace despite booming segment sales, leaving the Octavia mid-size passenger car as the Czech brand’s best-selling model for the time being.

Speaking to GoAuto last week at the MY17 Octavia launch, just days after official sketches of the new Kodiaq were released, Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said he was nonetheless certain the new SUV – a rival for the Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX-9, among others – will become a core performer when it lands sometime in the second half of next year.

“As the SUV segment represents almost 50 per cent of the Australian market now, and seven-seater SUVs are a large proportion of those, it is safe to assume the Kodiaq has the potential to be one of the big sellers in the Skoda brand,” Mr Irmer said.

“I would not go as far as it will outsell the Octavia, especially considering as it will be the first-generation product.

“As we have experienced with other products over the last couple of years, the second generation of any of our models is significantly more successful than the first generation. And that is a fact of our brand not being that well known yet in Australia, and if you drill down to individual models, they too are not that well known here as well.

“That’s why it is clear for a brand that will not be the dominant player in the market, launching for the first time with a first-generation product. Even though it is an important segment, it will take time to establish that name.

“But the Kodiaq will be one of our pillars – that’s for sure.” Refusing to comment on indicative pricing for the new SUV, Mr Irmer did promise it will be a competitive package against rival models positioned in the higher end of that class.

While some like the Holden Captiva start from as low as $30,490, the new CX-9 launching next month will kick off from $42,490.

“It might be priced closer to the top end of the segment … but it’s a question not of price, but what consumers will get,” he said.

If the Czech car-maker elects to introduce a five-seater version, the base jump-off point could slip in below $40,000.

“We have not made any decision as to whether we offer five seats or not,” Mr Irmer said. “But seven seats we will definitely offer on Kodiaq.” The sub-$70,000 large SUV segment is treading water at just 1.4 per cent growth year-to-date to the end of May, but with 47,000 sales and counting, it remains the second biggest in SUVs behind the medium SUV class (at 55,300 units).

Of the models with seven-seat availability, the strongest performers are the Toyota Prado (6223), Kluger (4936) and Captiva (4162).

Over the same period, Skoda sold 890 Octavias (including the Scout), with the second-generation Fabia light car coming in at a surprising second with 392 sales.

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