Ford’s exit has shaken customer confidence, forcing them to rethink what they are planning to buy
A series of abrupt high-profile exits in recent years such as that of General Motors and Ford have negatively impacted consumer sentiments. While automakers with high market share may not be impacted, the ones with relatively fewer sales numbers could be affected. It is natural for consumers to worry about the future of the brand they are planning to choose. The ‘what if’ factor has gained prominence among consumers in recent times.
Skoda India plans
Based on prevailing sentiments, a user recently asked Skoda if they too are planning to leave India like Ford. The question seems genuine, as there are certain similarities between the two companies in terms of their size of India operations, portfolio and popularity. Responding to the query, Director of Skoda Auto India, Zac Hollis assured that there are no such plans.
On the contrary, Zac pointed out that the company has invested Rs 8,000 crore in the Indian market over the last three years. This is part of India 2.0 strategy that Skoda is executing in partnership with Volkswagen Group. Zac further said that Skoda has long-term plans for the Indian market. A number of new products are planned for launch in coming years.
The Czech automaker currently has four products in India – Kushaq, Rapid, Superb, and Octavia. Kushaq is currently the company’s top selling product, with August sales at 2,904 units. In a span of just around two months, Kushaq has raced to the third spot in the list of bestselling compact SUVs. While it trails Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos, Kushaq is ahead of Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, Nissan Kicks and Renault Duster.
Enthusiastic response for Kushaq should be a significant confidence booster for the company. Skoda’s other products are also popular, even though they cater to a niche customer base.
Skoda upcoming products
In line with its strategy to strengthen its India portfolio, Skoda will be launching a new sedan in coming months. The new Skoda sedan is expected to work as a replacement for the ageing Rapid. While international markets have the new-gen Rapid, the one in India is a decade old model. The new sedan will take on rivals such as Hyundai Verna and Honda City.
Skoda new sedan is expected to be named Slavia. It will be based on the MQB A0 IN platform that has been especially designed for India. Kushaq and recently launched Volkswagen Taigun use the same platform. Slavia has been spotted on road tests and spy images reveal that it has larger proportions as compared to Rapid.
While Zac’s reasoning seems reassuring, the fact is that businesses need to be profitable to sustain themselves in the long term. Investments do not necessarily guarantee the success of a business enterprise. Hopefully, things will turn out great for Skoda and it won’t have to face a Ford like situation.