Skoda is planning to launch an ICE powered sub-4-metre SUV that could be followed by a hybrid or a fully-electric vehicle in India when it begins Phase 3 operations.
The VW Group is currently executing the ‘India 2.0’ Project which is a Euro 1 billion investment primarily between 2019 and 2021. The goal is to reach a combined (Volkswagen and Skoda) market share of 5% by 2025 starting with SUV and sedan cars from each brand, which are the VW Taigun and Skoda Vision IN SUVs, and successors to the VW Vento and Skoda Rapid. At the centre of the 2.0 Project is the MQB A0 platform that has been remade for India (MQB-A0-IN) and the company is planning to start exporting cars generated on this platform.
Zac Hollis, Director – Sales, Service & Marketing, Skoda (India), told thehindubusinessline.com this week that the company is discussing its electric car strategy for India and that this shows that it has a long-term commitment to our market. He indicated that the India 3.0 project will include launching Skoda electric cars in India, saying that while it hasn’t decided the India 3.0 products, the company will need to eventually launch EVs in the country.
Previously, Hollis had confirmed Skoda’s ambition for a different powertrain, where he had said that Skoda is evaluating a new energy vehicle and a mass-market EV is the long-term objective. The MEB platform-based Skoda Enyaq iV, which goes on sale in Europe in early 2021, would be expensive if launched in India. The government is offering subsidy (Rs 10,000/kWh) and a lower GST (5%) for pure electric vehicles which don’t depend on fossil fuel, and going forward, if hybrid cars don’t receive real benefits, it’s safe to assume that Skoda and VW would launch an EV in the Rs 10-15 lakh bracket. Hybrids, due to their design, tend to get expensive without government support.
The development of the India 3.0 project was revealed by Bernhard Maier, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Skoda, in interaction with iDNES.cz magazine last year. Mr Maier had said that the SUV models (unveiled to the public at the Auto Expo 2020) will be offered under both Skoda and Volkswagen brands which will be built on the group’s MQB A0 IN. The company is looking to achieve 95% localisation to make the car affordable. In the third phase, Skoda will be concentrating on new market segments before offering electrified models in India.
Maier had admitted that it is early to talk about a confirmed project but if demand for electric cars increases in India, the plan would change. Customer pull for products like the Tata Nexon EV, Maruti’s Wagon R-based EV and the Mahindra eXUV300 would be a signal for the approval of the EV project.
The Volkswagen Group could consider a tie-up with an electrification solutions provider for India-specific EVs or modify the MEB platform for low-cost electric cars if feasibility studies for electric vehicles in India are positive. The Phase 3 plan will start in 2023.