Skoda plans assault on SUV segment


Skoda plans assault on SUV segment

Skoda aims to take its smart Yeti SUV to the next level by doubling production and adding more SUVs to its range.

Speaking exclusively to AOL Cars, Skoda's member of the board of management for sales and marketing, Werner Eichhorn, said the Czech marque will be building on the success of the Yeti by producing more and introducing new models to the SUV segment to win more customers.

"Our first priority is to double Yeti production," Eichhorn told us. "We have sold 90,000 Yetis worldwide and it has been an incredibly important car for us and the brand.

"We will also be introducing a facelifted Yeti. This sharper new Yeti will be launched later this year and will probably arrive in the UK at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2014."

But Eichhorn revealed Skoda has plans to increase its presence in the SUV market by creating larger and smaller SUVs.

"From what we have seen from markets such as Russia, we think there is a need for a larger SUV," Eichhorn explained.

"In my view, the SUV market really fits with the Skoda brand because it is all about reliability, robustness and functionality. But it is important we do not enter niche segments with these but the big segments.

"Within the VW Group we have the technology to add even a smaller Yeti. The Yeti is approximately four metres long so we have space to go smaller and bigger. But our main priority at the moment is concentrating on the Yeti and introducing a larger SUV."

Eichhorn also suggested the next Superb will be "bigger and be more dynamic to look at" but "not at the cost of the features it has become known for – space, functionality and quality", and the sales and marketing chief said Skoda will be launching more special edition models in the future.

It means we will be seeing more models offered in off-road-like Scout guise, sporty Monte Carlo and posh Laurin & Klement versions.

"We will be bringing to market more Scout variants of our cars because feedback tells us customers like these cars," said Eichhorn.

"But the version we would really like to develop is the Monte Carlo idea. We got some tremendous feedback on the Fabia Monte Carlo, so we would like to introduce some more colour and design-led ideas for our forthcoming models."

The top-drawer Laurin & Klement specification will also make its way to more models. Only ever available on the previous Octavia, Yeti and Superb, L&K models add extra kit such as leather and special paint colours for a small premium. The badge takes its name from the founders of Skoda: Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement. Eichhorn hinted the luxury L&K spec would work well on the Citigo, Fabia and new Octavia.

"Our customers like the differentiation between the models. There's the off-road like Scout, sporty Monte Carlo and luxury Laurent and Klement. The Europeans really like to differentiate their cars, we really believe offering more versions to more customers is the right thing to do."

Read our Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo road test here