Czech carmaker Skoda is mulling to drive in electric vehicles in the Indian market as it expects the green mobility segment to pick up significantly in the country over the next few years, according to a senior company official.
The automaker, which is witnessing a turnaround in its domestic business, however, has no plans to get into the CNG space in the immediate future.
"We will have to (get into the EV segment) because we plan a long term future in India," Skoda Auto India Brand Director Zac Hollis told when asked if the company is looking to launch electric vehicles (EVs) in the country.
"We estimate that by 2030, 25-30 per cent of the market would be electric cars and we need to make sure that we play our part, so we will bring EVs to the market," he added.
Hollis noted that group firms like Audi and Porsche have already started to launch high-end electric vehicles in the Indian market.
"The electric car launches from the group enable us to see how the technology is working in the Indian road conditions and climate and also it will help us learn from the dealer aspect as well," he started.
When asked about the launch timelines, Hollis said: "Can't give a timeline as it is still under discussion."
On the introduction of CNG models, he stated: "We have no short term plans for CNG...the problem is that with our platform, technology and TSI engines we cannot be competitive and a CNG car is predominantly at a lower end of the market.
"I think that is the issue we need to look at.. so no plans in the short term but we will keep reviewing it."
Many domestic carmakers are expanding their CNG product lineup in the country amid an increase in fuel prices and a drop in diesel car sales.
Skoda, which now sells models like Kushaq, Slavia, Octavia, Superb and Kodiaq in the Indian market, is witnessing a turnaround in its business.
The carmaker, which sold close to 24,000 units last year in the domestic market, aims to treble its volume this year.
"We are receiving a robust response. The turnaround is clearly happening. We increased the volume last year by 140 per cent, we intend to treble our volumes this year from 2021," Hollis said.
He noted that the company has taken various measures in the last few years to strengthen its presence and model range in the country.
"We have worked in the last three years to expand the dealer network to ensure that we are represented across regions, particularly in smaller towns. We have also increased our footprint in metro cities," Hollis said.
The company has expanded its sales network from 65 to 153 as of date and it will touch the 180 mark before the end of the year, he added. The company has also worked on enhancing customer satisfaction, Hollis said.
"People said you make great cars but you are expensive to own, so the thing about Kushaq and Slavia is that they are 95 per cent localised. It now reflects in our spare part costs because we are not importing parts. So the cost of ownership is now much much lower," he stated.
"So we have definitely become much more affordable as a brand. The cost of ownership of Slavia is the best in the segment, I guess we have cracked that..we have also worked a lot on customer satisfaction and this is also working. The complaints in the last two years have gone down by about 60 per cent," Hollis noted.
Skoda is responsible for pressing ahead with the India 2.0 project on behalf of Volkswagen Group since June 2018.
"So definitely, we have moved the brand on and we are ready for growth as the foundation is there, the product is there, the organisation is ready," Hollis said.
When asked about new product launches, he noted that the company has localised the platform and new body styles could be developed on the same.
"Small SUVs are also possible, everything is being looked at," Hollis said.
On possibilities of launching a small car, he said: "We will work with the platform that we have and that could also be used for a sub-four-meter car..everything is being looked at because local production is there," On production, he said the company is commencing third shift at its manufacturing plant and would soon be able to reach full capacity utilisation.
On the chip shortage, Hollis noted that the company was receiving robust support from parent firms in Germany and the Czech Republic.