Compact sedans have been the money spinners for manufacturers in a time when the overall market is seeing a downward trend. The fact that Hyundai and Ford too have joined the bandwagon to get a chunk out of the pie shows the potential this segment has for car makers. Now Skoda is planning a sub-4 metre compact sedan to add to its Indian portfolio. The Czech car maker realizes the growing aspirations of Indian customers and the fact that a compact sedan works as a status symbol at a lower price point. The compact sedan will help generate volumes for the company which is seeing a steep decline in sales.
Compact sedans thanks to being under the 4-metre mark receive reduced excise duties at 12 percent compared to 24-27 percent for larger sedans. This translates to a lower purchase price benefitting the customer. The segment alone has posted sales of 2.5 lakh units, even with a decline of 5 percent in the overall car sales for this fiscal. Skoda too saw its sales drop by 15 percent to 29,067 units in the last fiscal year (2012-2013); and the drift continued in the current year as well with a drop of 35 percent to 22,700 units. The Rapid is currently the cheapest offering from Skoda, ever since the Fabia was discontinued last year.
The compact sedan however will be the cheapest car in Skoda’s Indian lineup, when launched. The company has shelved the plans to get the Citigo hatchback, as the car would be too expensive for India. Skoda is focusing on strengthening the brand in the luxury space with a stronger brand positioning in the customer’s mind. The company launched its flagship sedan the facelifted Superb earlier this week, while the next launch will be the Yeti facelift in late 2014 which was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo. Skoda’s most loved product in India the Octavia has been doing well in its segment since its launch last year and has sold out its production for about four months.
Coming back to the compact sedan; the car will be based on the Rapid-Fabia platform and will be produced at the company’s Aurangabad plant in Maharashtra. This will also be the company’s first compact sedan globally. We expect to see the new Skoda design language from the Mission L and Vision D concepts to feature on the compact sedan as well. The butterfly grille would grace the front, while the rear would see a notchback styling (similar to the European Rapid Spaceback). The angular sporty design would be retained throughout the car, while the interiors would boast of top notch quality.
The pricing will be a crucial factor in determining the success of the Rapid based compact sedan. The company did not share a specific timeline for the launch of the vehicle. When launched, the compact car will be competing against the Maruti DZire, Hyundai Xcent, Ford Figo sedan and Tata Zest in the country.
Source – Economic Times