Mumbai: Bernhard Maier, chief executive officer, Skoda Auto, has ambitious plans for India, with a strong focus on the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment.

In an interview, he says the goal is to achieve a 5% market share in India after 2025.

Edited excerpts:

Why did the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for an alliance with Tata fall through?

We had good and constructive discussions with Tata Motors. Both parties concluded that the desired economic synergies could not be achieved. We at Skoda are now developing a new strategy based on the Volkswagen Group’s successful MQB A0 platform and we are very confident about this approach for the Indian market. However, the possibility of future cooperation with Tata is not ruled out.

In the next five years where do you see Skoda in India?

We have ambitious plans for Skoda in India and aim to strengthen our presence across segments. We just started on our Strategy 2025, the biggest product campaign ever in the history of Skoda, and we are strongly focusing on the SUV segment. This segment is by far the fastest growing segment in the entire world and this is true for India, too. So we are starting with the Kodiaq now and we are looking forward to coming up with some interesting new products in the years to come. We will evaluate the Karoq for the Indian market, too.

India is one of the most promising economies with a dynamically evolving automotive industry, and this market will play an important role in Skoda’s global growth strategy. As part of our new strategy for the market, we are planning to re-enter volume segments. Our goal is a market share of 5% in India after 2025.

How do you plan to reduce the cost of the MQB platform for India?

One of the aspects we have to look at intensively is finding out how to lower the cost of technical development. In this regard, we are looking at establishing a local engineering centre in India. Additionally, we need to develop a solid supplier base in India which will provide us with a cost advantage without compromising on quality. We will also have to tackle the issue of competitive material costs.

When can we expect the first models based on a localized MQB A0 platform for the Indian market?

The launch of the first products based on this strategy will coincide with the changing regulations in 2020 (shift to BS VI). We are evaluating various volume segments and the compact SUV, and hatchback segments look to be particularly exciting.

Will you be developing products for the VW Group and Volkswagen brand in India as well?

Our strategy is, of course, closely linked to the development of the VW Group in India. Therefore, we will also be considering sharing the platform with VW. However, each brand and product will have its own identity. Autocar India

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