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Skoda scopes out larger SUV

Ambitions: Skoda chairman Winfried Vahland is pushing the Czech brand to almost double sales within six years.

Yeti set to get bigger brother as Czech brand strives for 1.5 million global sales

Skoda logo2 Mar 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in PORTUGAL

SKODA is investigating a medium-sized SUV with up to seven seats to help shore up its ambitions to sell more than 1.5 million vehicles worldwide within the next six years.

Skoda chairman Winfried Vahland told the Australian media at the international launch of the Citigo light car, which is also central to the Czech company’s growth ambitions, that the larger SUV has not yet been locked in.

Dr Vahland said a decision is not expected until the end of this year or during 2013.

The thinking is to utilise the experience of parent company Volkswagen in China, which extended the current-generation Tiguan (pictured below) by about 100mm in length to increase its appeal in that part of the world.

The medium-sized SUV may adopt a variation of the same hardware as today’s extended Tiguan from China or (more likely) be developed from a larger variation of the new MQB architecture that will underpin every future transverse-engined Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, and Seat from Polo size up to Passat.

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“We have (a bigger SUV) in our thinking,” said Dr Vahland.

“Skoda has always been positioned in between the segments … it would be bigger than Tiguan. Our cars have always had a good price/value-for-money relationship.

“We are investigating all the possibilities (including a seven-seater). Maybe it makes sense to offer (a bigger SUV) as an option.”

Dr Vahland acknowledged that the Skoda outfit in Australia would benefit from the addition of an SUV above Yeti – particularly if this included a plan for a seven-seater variant – to help increase sales significantly from the 3501 units recorded in 2011.

Though he was pleased at the 111.9 per cent rise the marque enjoyed over 2010, he conceded that Skoda “have to do bigger numbers in Australia”.

The 1.5 million-unit goal set for 2018 is a massive leap up from the 879,200 vehicles Skoda shifted worldwide last year – itself a 15.3 per cent improvement over 2010.

A similar increase is forecast for 2012.

A Skoda insider told us that the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe are also in need of a larger SUV than the Yeti.

“I will be the first one to put up my hand for a new big SUV if we decide to produce one,” said the company’s regional manager of overseas sales Valentin Tendero. “But nothing has been decided.”

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