Some time ago, I ranted on these pages about European methods of testing fuel mileage (and thus also CO2 emissions), and the way they give unfair advantage to downsized turbocharged engines, compared to good old N/A units. So it’s quite convenient that for my first TTAC European review, I got a Škoda Rapid, powered by a 1.2 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder – a typical example of downsized powerplant. With the Rapid being a relatively small and light family car, the little four-banger may have an opportunity to really shine, and show us whether downsizing works. Or not.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have traveled to Iceland, The Entire World (yep!), France and Germany. This week again we won’t go too far and cross just another border to land in the Czech Republic.
Skoda dealers in Europe are up in arms and openly protest plans by Volkswagen to strip Skoda cars to a point where they become unsalable, Automobilwoche [sub] says. Volkswagen denies any stripping. They wouldn’t do something as crude, at least not in public. They “derefine.” (Read More…)
I still remember when I accompanied a big cheese of Volkswagen to (then) Czechoslovakia in 1990, shortly after the iron curtain had rusted out. We went to Mladá Boleslav, near Prague, to inspect VW’s latest acquisition: Skoda. The place was pretty much empty.
When the automotive historians look back at GM they will point to many factors as to why they fell. Some might point to the Unions, some may point to their lack of reliable products, others may even point to their shoddy dealer service. But one factor which undeniably led to GM’s bankruptcy is lack of brand management. If anyone questions the harm poor brand management can do, then, may I point you in the direction of the Cadillac Cimarron? Muddled brands leave people confused and wondering why should I stay loyal to this brand? Your brand is your stamp of a promise to your customer. Safe cars? Volvo or Renault. Reliability? Toyota or Honda. Driving dynamics? BMW. Now I raise this point, because people said that this problem was endemic to GM only. It was a GM-centric problem. But is it, really? Was it really a GM-only problem? Or did GM suffer from “big company” syndrome? Well it seem there’s evidence that poor brand management isn’t just for American auto companies.
Der Spiegel reports that Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, is utterly fuming at Skoda. What could the reason be? Profits? Well, they are down, but we’ll come to that later. No, the main reason why Herr Winterkorn is seething at Skoda is because Skoda is doing well. So, well, in fact, that their cars are now creating problems for VW cars, their main brand. (Read More…)
After decades of “up-positioning” and premium-branding, the sudden success of cheapskate models such as the Dacia Logan has not gone unnoticed at Europe’s largest automaker Volkswagen. Czech media is abuzz with reports of a new entry model, blatantly codenamed “A Entry,” which may be part of the Skoda line-up.
Reuters cites Czech media reports that the new model could be priced around $13,650, putting it somewhere between Skoda’s smaller (Polo-based) Fabia and the larger Octavia, which sits on a PQ35 (think Golf, Jetta) platform. Priced and positioned like that, it won’t be a Logan-killer. The Dacia goes for under $10,000 MSRP.
In the meantime, rumors that VW aims a lot lower won’t die in Wolfsburg. (Read More…)