Skoda Arrives In Australia
14th October, 2007
Škoda is the newest European car company "Down Under", after launching its all-new operation last week.
The Škoda brand's Australian premiere marks the point at which European car ownership aspirations can be realised by an unprecedented number of Australians - at a value more typically associated with comparable Japanese brands.
"Škoda will re-engineer the value equation surrounding the European driving experience," said Head of Škoda Australia Matthew Wiesner. "Our vehicles are engaging, refined and packed with exactly the kind of equipment today's discerning buyers demand. Add ultra-sharp pricing and Škoda's underlying value is unbeatable."
Škoda debuted with two exciting new vehicles that offer an unbeatable combination of spirited European dynamics, distinctive style and refined comfort. Compared with competitors, both new Škoda entrants really deliver on equipment levels, safety and practicality.
Škoda is one of the oldest automotive brands, having been in continuous production for more than 100 years, since 1905. Today, the company manufactures more than half a million vehicles annually, and is the Czech Republic's largest corporation, biggest employer and most prolific exporter and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG.
"Škoda has over the past few years achieved the strongest growth in the Volkswagen group, with a rock-solid reputation and strong sales across Europe and in the United Kingdom," said Matthew Wiesner. "The brand launches in Australia with all the boxes ticked and with vehicles that are right for busy Australian buyers who need a car that's more than up to the challenge of accommodating a broad range of busy lifestyles."
Škoda competes in the global marketplace with a product portfolio composed of four models - the Fabia, Octavia, Superb and Roomster. Initially, Škoda will offer two of those Down Under - the mid-sized Octavia, which boasted engine and equipment upgrades in 2006 and is the company's top seller and the ultra-practical Roomster, which first went on sale internationally from June last year.
AUSTRALIAN LAUNCH MODELS
Škoda will have 10 dedicated dealers in its network;
There is no dealer for Skoda in the Northern Territory or Tasmania at this early time.
However, it is planned that the network will expand to approximately 25 dealers nationwide in 2009 and approximately 30 in 2010.
As such, Škoda is one of the world's oldest automotive brands.
Škoda is wholly owned by the Volkswagen Group in Germany. Volkswagen Group's association with Škoda began in 1991, when the company took a 30 per cent equity position in Škoda and began a joint venture partnership aimed at satisfying the growing demand for cars in central and eastern Europe. The Czech-based manufacturer was ideally placed, both geographically and technically, with a strong engineering reputation and a highly skilled work force - plus a robust cost/benefit economic position.
Volkswagen grew its equity in Škoda progressively, acquiring a 60.3 per cent share in 1994 and increasing that to 70 per cent in 1995. Škoda became a Volkswagen subsidiary on 30th May 2000, when Volkswagen took up the remaining 30 per cent share of the company's equity, then owning it outright.
Škoda is the Czech Republic's largest exporter. Škoda's export production makes up an incredible 7.7 per cent of total Czech Republic exports and 78 per cent of that export production is sold within the European Union. The brand is now ideally placed to exploit growing opportunities beyond Europe.
Škoda is also a key component supplier to other Volkswagen Group companies. In 2006, Škoda produced 282,564 three-cylinder 1.2-litre engines, more than 60 per cent of which were supplied to other Volkswagen companies. It also provided almost 45 per cent of the MQ 200 gearbox's annual production volume of 457,314 units to Volkswagen companies.
Today, Škoda remains an icon of the Czech Republic as well as a high-profile sponsor of key regional sporting and cultural events including the Tour de France, the Ice Hockey World Championship and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Škoda Motorsport is engaged in the World Rally Championship, with Škoda-supported Fabia entrants achieving fifth and sixth places in Rally Cataluna and Rally Germany respectively in the 2006 season.
GLOBAL PRODUCT RANGE
Last year marked the first time Škoda's production exceeded the half-million-vehicle mark. The total number of vehicles produced in 2006 was 556,347, representing production growth of 12.6 per cent over 2005. Two new models entered production in 2006, the Škoda Roomster in March and the new Škoda Fabia hatchback in December.
Today, four Škoda models are produced - Fabia, Octavia, Roomster and Superb. Of these, Octavia accounts for more than half of all Skodas currently sold.
The Fabia lineup is produced in two versions, a compact hatchback and roomy 'Wagon'. A total of 240,919 Fabia's were produced in 2006, representing 6.5 per cent growth over the previous year. The new generation Fabia has just been launched in Europe.
Globally, a total of 269,774 Octavias were produced in 2006, representing more than half of Škoda Auto's total vehicle production, and a significant 9.4 per cent increase over 2005 Octavia production volumes.
The new Škoda Roomster is built at the Kvasiny plant in the Czech Republic, with production being ramped up to meet market demand. A total of 25,055 Roomsters were produced in 2006, after production began in March.
The Superb is manufactured in one body style, a sedan. Two engines are available, a 2.8-litre 30-valve V6 engine boasting 142 kW and a 2.5-litre diesel with 120 kW. A five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is an option. Production volumes were constant over 2006, with 20,403 Superbs produced.
GLOBAL PRODUCTION & MANUFACTURING
Škoda will produce more than 600,000 cars in 2007, employs almost 27,000 staff and has a presence in more than 90 countries around the globe. Three per cent of all Czech workers are employed either directly or indirectly by Škoda.
Škoda has production plants in the Czech Republic, at Mlada Boleslav, Vrchlabi and Kvasiny, and another plant in India, at Aurangabad. In addition to these, partner assembly plants are located in:
A total of 34,825 Škoda cars were assembled at these partner assembly plants outside the Czech Republic in 2006.
Škoda produces complete vehicles as well as kits in various stages of assembly. Component assemblies are produced in various production plants and shipped to assembly plants for final production. The company also produces component parts, such as engines and gearboxes, and their component parts, as well as genuine parts and accessories.
Škoda Sales Worldwide, 2006: Selected Highlights
Source: Škoda Auto Annual Report 2006, vehicle customer deliveries
Not all export countries shown above
Škoda Vehicle Production by Model, 2006
Source: Škoda Auto Annual Report 2006.
Note: Roomster first on sale June 2006; production currently being ramped up to meet demand.
More than a century of continuous automotive design and production
1895 Established as Laurin and Klement, the company starts as a bicycle manufacturer. Motorcycle manufacturing began in 1899.
1905 The fist car, called a Voiturette A, is produced and quickly met success.
1920s Truck production begins after WW I. Laurin and Klement merge into Škoda Works in 1924, then the biggest industrial enterprise in Austria/Hungary and later Czechoslovakia. Škoda's new model, the Popular, lives up to its name after the economic depression.
WW II During the WW II German Occupation of Czechoslovakia, Škoda works becomes part of Hermann Göring Werke serving the German war effort.
1950-70s Despite lost contact with technical development in non-communist countries after WW II, Škoda develops an international reputation for building extremely robust and reliable cars like the 440 Spartak, the 445 Octavia, the Felicia and the 1000 MB. Successful rally competition with rear-engined models like the Estelle and Rapid is enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s.
1980s The year 1987 marked a technological turning point for Škoda, marked by the hugely successful Favorit. Designed by leading Italian design house, Bertone, it became a huge success and the technology gap of the past began quickly to close.
1990s The Velvet Revolution, which in 1989 ends more than four decades of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, delivers profound change to the politics and economy, and many industries are subject to privatisation. In April 1991 Škoda begins a joint-venture partnership with Volkswagen, which takes a 30 per cent share in the company. That equity grows to 60.3 per cent on 19th December 1995, then 70 per cent on 11th December 1995, and finally 100 per cent on 30th May 2000, when Škoda became a wholly owned Volkswagen subsidiary.
2000s Škoda undergoes a rapid technological and image-based transformation to become a premium European brand with excellent underlying price-for-value economics for customers. As core models Fabia and second-generation Octavia evolve, the company draws from its core engineering strengths to offer top-quality design with a human touch. Škoda quickly becomes recognised as a vehicle manufacturer offering attractive, practical solutions to everyday issues, living up to its maxim, 'Simply Clever'. Sales exceed half a million units in 2006 and the brand has a presence in over 90 countries. Production will exceed 600,000 in 2007.
QUALITY & MARKET INTEGRATION
Škoda also directly monitors and audits customer care at retailers and authorised service centres. Anonymous "shop tests" are regularly conducted in service centres using customer vehicles. Together with detailed dealer image analysis and customer surveys, a picture of growing customer satisfaction has emerged. Results to date indicate customer satisfaction has grown from 74 per cent (percentage of customers satisfied with dealership and service centre services) in 1997, to 82 per cent customer satisfaction in 2006.
New measures are currently employed to drive customer satisfaction even higher.
Czech Republic: Škoda retained its position as domestic market leader in 2006.
Central Europe: Škoda retained its position as number one car maker in the region, with healthy sales increases in Poland and Slovakia (4.1 and 3.0 per cent respectively). Škoda enjoys a 12 per cent market share in Poland.
Eastern Europe: Škoda earned its highest growth in sales in 2006 - a massive year-on-year 52 per cent increase - in Eastern Europe.
Western Europe: In its strongest market, Škoda took its market share from 1.9 per cent in 2005 to 2.1 per cent in 2006. A total of 301,343 vehicles were delivered in the region. More than 10 per cent sales growth was earned in Germany (103,931 vehicles; up 15.3 per cent on 2005), Spain, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, and Finland.
Overseas/Asia: Huge growth potential exists for Škoda in this region. In 2006, deliveries were up 21.1 per cent to 36,541 vehicles, compared with 2005. India, currently the largest market in the region, saw sales grow 35.2 per cent.
INDEPENDENT ACCLAIM FOR ŠKODA
Škoda's position as not only a premium European brand, but as a premium car manufacturer on the world stage is qualified by numerous independent accolades earned during 2006 and 2007.
The 2007 United Kingdom J D Power Customer Satisfaction Survey dispels any doubt concerning the resurgence of Škoda as a premium brand.
J D Power found Škoda so highly regarded by owners that the brand ranked joint second in this year's survey. Second only to a Japanese brand in 2007, Škoda moved up one place from its outstanding third-placed 2006 result.
The 2007 UK survey results were based on the evaluations of more than 18,000 UK car owners after an average of two years' ownership, and encompasses 33 brands and 113 models. Owners provide detailed evaluations of 77 attributes surrounding their vehicles and the retailers.
The 2007 J D Power Survey marks the twelfth consecutive year that Škoda has been among the top five brands, representing the only manufacturer to achieve such consistent, long-running customer satisfaction.
The Škoda Octavia took first place in the Family Car class in the survey.
What Car?The Škoda Octavia scored a notable double victory by scooping a pair of What Car? awards. The magazine awarded its annual Small Family Car award to the Octavia Ambiente for the second year running, and bestowed the prestigious Hot Hatch award on the high-performance Octavia vRS.
The Octavia's victory in the fiercely-contested Hot Hatch category prompted the judges to say: "Don't think Škoda has won here simply by offering value for money - the vRS is Škodas fastest-ever production car."
Judges also praised the vRS's unique combination of sportiness and practicality, saying: "The chassis harnesses all of the performance with a blend of comfort and control. It also fulfils its brief as a hot-hatch for grown-ups by providing loads of interior space. Discerning owners will gain a glow of satisfaction from the knowledge that their unassuming Škoda can wallop many more brash rivals."
In awarding the Small Family Car title to the Octavia Ambiente 1.6 FSI the What Car? judging panel described the 1.6 FSI Octavia as being "more spacious and practical than any direct rival. The judges concluded by saying, "None of the new pretenders have been able to unseat our defending champion, the Škoda Octavia."
MORE NEWS COMING AT NEXT CAR
Additional news on the Australian arrival of the Skoda brand will be published this coming week. There will, also, be drive reports published here on the Next Car website as well.
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