Mumbai: Skoda Auto India Pvt. Ltd, a Volkswagen group company, plans to launch four new models in 2017 as it seeks to boost sales and reinforce its image in the so-called value luxury segment, top executives said on Wednesday.

In a bid to transform the overall brand and ownership experience, which has been the weakest links for Skoda in India, the company plans to launch a new brand campaign on 1 September. It’s also in the process of revamping its entire sales and service network.

Skoda has earmarked an investment of 100 crore for the effort, of which it has already pumped in 60 crore.

Sudhir Rao, chairman and managing director at Skoda Auto India, told reporters that a slew of initiatives undertaken in the last couple of years have started paying off.

For instance, monthly average customer complaints have dropped to 370 in the first half of this year from 780 in 2013, said Ashutosh Dixit, director of sales, service and marketing at Skoda Auto India.

The maker of Superb premium sedans now plans to launch new models to address critical gaps in its model line-up.

The four models it is set to bring to India next year include a premium seven-seater sport utility vehicle called the Kodiaq, a sedan in the volume segment that will be positioned above the Rapid, its sub-four-metre sedan, and another new model, on which Rao declined to elaborate.

All the models will help in further reinforcing Skoda’s positioning in the value luxury segment, Rao said. “We are not deviating from our core positioning of being a value luxury brand," he said.

Skoda India is not reinventing itself, but only going further on a path it took a couple of years ago. With the new launches, Skoda expects to sell 20,000 units in 2017, up from 15,000 in 2015, said Rao.

All the models will be manufactured in India at the company’s factories in Aurangabad and Chakan.

Skoda sold 2,820 units in the quarter that ended in June, down from 3,725 units a year earlier.

The sales are abysmal even when compared with a luxury car maker like Mercedes Benz India Pvt Ltd, which sold 3,622 units in the same period.

Clearly, Skoda has a long way to go before it can reach a critical mass of sales crucial for any car maker’s survival.

Even as Rao concedes that sales volumes are critical, he maintains, “We will not be least expensive brand." The company will not compromise the brand for the sake of sales volumes.

In an intensely competitive Indian car market where three out of four models are sold by the top three passenger vehicle makers, the Czech Republic-based firm with less than 1% market share has been struggling, even after being present in India for a decade and a half.

High cost of ownership and service-related issues have deterred buyers. In a market where new model launches at regular intervals has emerged as a critical factor in driving sales, Skoda’s limited line-up has also been a drag.

In a bid to address the service-related issues, Skoda is launching new service initiatives from next month, said Dixit. This will include menu pricing—which allows owners to choose from a bunch of services with prices attached—a four-year or 100,000km warranty and four years’ roadside assistance service at no additional cost. It is also assuring owners who visit workshops for periodic maintenance services that it will deliver the car on the same day.

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