EVW caught up with Zac Hollis, Director – Sales, Service & Marketing, Skoda Auto India at the VW Media Night last week in New Delhi to talk about upcoming emission norms and Skoda’s electrification plans. The MQB A0-IN has birthed an SUV each for Skoda and Volkswagen (VW Taigun) but generating bigger crossovers from this platform is technically unfeasible, EVW understands.
Skoda has the Citigo iV already in the market and more electric vehicles to come in the first half of this decade. Do you see any electrified model from the global line-up relevant for the Indian market, like a plug-in hybrid to start with?
Zac: If you look at the hybrid market in India, it is difficult to see how you can get significant volume in there. So if you bring in hybrids, you will probably bring them as CBUs, as the volume potential is quite small.
In India, we need the infrastructure in place. Once the infrastructure is in place, we would look at bringing the cars to India. We haven’t yet decided whether they would be the European cars or will locally developed solutions. We will bring electric cars to India at the right time.
Volkswagen Group has been quite categorical in saying that the MEB will be rationalized for electric vehicles in the future. And you have the MQB A0-IN platform here, which is going to the core platform. Would you be having any electrified solutions specific to India?
Zac: To be honest, we haven’t decided yet. We will bring electric car solutions to India but nothing has been decided. The group will start at the top end for electric cars with Taycan from Porsche and the electric car from Audi as well. But for the long term strategy for electric cars, we are still looking at what the right solutions are.
In India, we have unique solutions, the partnership between Ford and Mahindra for instance. They are taking the localised vehicles and shoehorning the battery and motor sourced locally. Is Skoda looking at similar stop-gap solutions?
Zac: There are lots of different solutions and options. We need to look at what’s the right solution for India. I think that India will have an electric car future but it would probably be after Europe and China.
In 2023, the new CAFE standards are coming in. You also have the real-world driving efficiency tests that will be putting some more pressure on the fuel efficiency of the cars. Some companies are using mild hybrid systems to pass these tests and still preserve their fuel efficiency. How is Skoda planning to handle this?
Zac: Mild hybrid is one solution and another is CNG. It is possible that we would be bringing CNG solutions for 2023. We could be bringing either of these. Our TSI technology is already very efficient and we would be looking to make it more efficient, of course, it will be within the CAFE norms.
Skoda has already confirmed to build a sedan based on the A0-IN platform. But the SUV market in India is growing well. So do you see an opportunity to have an elongation of this platform to fit in a third row of seats?
Zac: The issue with this platform is if you make this platform any longer, it probably won’t work. What we need to do is work out which segments to be in for the future. And if you look at some of the growing segments in India, the sub-4-metre SUV is a growing segment. The hatchback is also a big segment in India. So we have to look at the right segments in the future. At the moment, there are two products confirmed – this car here (Skoda Vision IN SUV) and the sedan.