To increase its presence in India, Czech auto major Skoda is set to launch five products in the country over the next two years.
While a refurbished Laura would hit the roads some time next month, a premium mid-sized sedan, Rapid, would arrive by the end of the year. Also on the cards are smaller versions of sports utility vehicle (SUV) Yeti, in both petrol and diesel variants, and a small car tagged between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh.
“At the moment, with the Fabia, Laura, Superb and Yeti — the mid segment vehickes — we cover 30 per cent of the passenger vehicles market in the country. We are now looking at adding on to our product line-up to gain between 4 and 6 per cent share here over the next few years,” said Thomas Kuehl, member of board in charge of sales and marketing, Skoda Auto India.
The Rapid, which has been developed on the Vento platform, will also have both petrol and diesel variants. It will be pitted against Maruti Suzuki SX4, Volkswagen Vento, Honda City and Ford Fiesta models, which have established a niche for themselves in the category.
“Our cars offer better price-value proposition. In the premium category, Laura and Superb both have better quality, styling and driveability as compared to competition. Our entry-level sedan would do the same and we are expecting to top sales in the segment once the product is introduced by the end of the year,” Kuehl added.
The upper end of the mid-sized sedan segment has been seeing increased competition in recent months. While Maruti Suzuki introduced a diesel variant of SX4 in February, US major Ford plans to launch the global Fiesta later this year. South Korean company Hyundai introduced the Fluidic Verna in May, and since then has recorded 21,000 bookings.
According to industry estimates, as many as 140,000-150,000 units of premium mid-size sedans were sold last year and the category is recording a growth of around 25 per cent. Skoda is additionally drawing up a blueprint for an intensive foray into the SUV category. “We have over 25 per cent share in the D segment with the Superb, 16.5 per cent share in the segment that has the Laura. We are working on increasing our presence in the SUV category,” Kuehl said.
The company had launched the Yeti in November last year to capture 20 per cent share of the SUV segment in the country. The Yeti is priced between Rs 15.35 lakh and Rs 16.73 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). However, demand has not been as strong as projected.
The company is looking at strengthening its presence in the segment with a smaller diesel engine variant in the course of the current financial year. Market surveys are also on for a petrol version of the car.
With the new sedan in place, coupled with sales of the new Fabia, Laura, Superb and Yeti, Skoda expects to double sales to over 40,000 units this year. The company is also working on a small car for the Indian market, which it expects to launch in 2013.
Skoda sold 22,969 units in the last financial year, registering 31.24 per cent annual growth.