German automaker Volkswagen''s group company, Skoda Auto
will launch the new Octavia by the end of 2005. The new
Octavia is an all-new car based on a totally different
platform while the company is planning to continue with
the old Octavia after the new version is launched.
According to Imran Hassen, managing director, Skoda Auto
India, "We will not phase out the current Octavia,
we will sell both alongside," he said. For the first
time in India, a carmaker will attempt to sell an older
model alongside its latest offering.
The reason for this is that the two cars are based on
entirely different platforms. The new Octavia launched
in Europe two months ago is based on the Volkswagen A5
platform while the model being sold in India at present
is based on the A4 platform.
Skoda Octavia is facing tough competition from the Toyota
Corolla and GM Optra and the German carmaker expects to
sell 8,000 cars in India this year and has set a target
of selling 25,000 per year in three years.
Hassen said the company has set a steep target to achieve
break-even. He said to achieve this target the company
would have to have a focused entry plan into the C segment
and the new Octavia was part of the focus on the C segment.
plant in Aurangabad has the capacity to assemble 15,000
vehicles at present and major capacity expansion plans
are underway as Skoda rides towards its 25,000 cars per
year target, said Hassen. Incidentally this is also Skoda
Auto''s only plant outside Europe.
company has also set up its first R&D centre outside
its home country, in India according to Hassen.
Skoda Auto India posted a turnover of around Rs700 crore
last year, expects to register revenues of Rs800 crore
in the current year.
The Czech parent has chalked out a seven-year plan, starting
1999, to invest $56 million in India. Skoda has sold around
13,000 units of the Octavia, Superb and L&K since
2001. Skoda had already invested €100 million ($119
million) in India on operations besides marketing since
entering in 2001, Hassen said.
Indian market for Skoda is of very high importance,"
he said. "The intention of Skoda is, first of all,
to stabilise the Indian market. After stabilisation, to
use the Indian market as a base to deal with the
markets in the region." Hassen also said that after
selling 25,000 units, the company would address the mass
market, andadded that Skoda would launch a technology
"not seen in India."