New Delhi: Czech carmaker Skoda on Thursday said it will assemble its upcoming sports utility vehicle (SUV) ‘Yeti´ at its Indian plant once it is commercially launched in the country next year.
SkodaAuto India, the wholly-owned Indian subsidiary, will showcase the SUV at the Auto Expo in the National Capital in January next year after its European launch in September this year.
“Feasibility study of the car (Yeti) will be started within a few weeks and by the end of the year, we will be able to announce the date of launch. It is unlikely that it will be launched in this fiscal, but it will surely come in 2010,” SkodaAuto India senior general manager (sales and network development) Ashutosh Dixit told the agency.
Before the commercial launch of ‘Yeti´ in India, the car would be showcased in the upcoming Auto Expo in the National Capital in January next year, he added.
“Yeti was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show this year and the vehicle is likely to be launched in the European markets in September in both petrol and diesel engines,” Dixit said, adding for the Indian market, Yeti’s engine capacity would be decided after the completion of the feasibility study.
Asked whether the car would be manufactured in India, he said, “It will be brought in as a completely-knocked-down (CKD) unit and will be assembled at our Aurangabad facility.”
SkodaAuto India, which sold 16,188 units in 2008, is expecting to cross the last year’s figures, Dixit said.
“This year we are expecting a promising second half, where growth will be more than the second half of last year,” he said, adding the company has so far sold about 6,500 units this year.
When asked about the localisation level of components in its cars, Dixit said it is 10-15% on an average, but with group firms Volkswagen and Audi entering into the market, it is likely to go up in the future.
He, however, said SkodaAuto India would not leverage the after-sales service network of the group firms.
“In Europe, we are utilising each other’s network at some places. But here as all the three brands are relatively new, the first challenge is to establish these in the minds of the customers. At the moment, we will operate independently, later we may leverage,” he added.
Besides, the Volkswagen (VW) group company is also expanding its dealership network by 15 outlets by next year.
“The market is recovering and we are witnessing buoyancy around our products. We will expand our dealerships to 75 outlets by 2010 from 61 at present,” Dixit said.
On the marketing front, he said the company is looking to sponsor ‘out-of-the-way´ events such as Kerala Boat Race, art exhibitions, music concerts and various other cultural shows.
SkodaAuto produces luxury cars like Sedan, Octavia, Superb and Laura at its Aurangabad facility, while the premium hatchback Fabia is rolled out from the VW’s Chakan plant.