Skoda To Come Out With Cheap Skates?
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.
There is ample chitchat that VW and Suzuki are working together on something small and cheap. Volkswagen is on record, for instance in Germany’s Rheinische Post, that “there are currently no plans for a car that counters the Nano.” Weasel words like “currently” and “no plans” send smoke signals that something is cooking.
After decades of conspicuous consumption, full frontal frugality is the new-fangled fashion in Europe. For years, Mediamarkt, a chain for low priced electronics, had the slogan “Geiz ist geil.” Directly translated, it would come out as “stinginess is horny.” A more fitting rendition would be “It’s cool to be cheap.” Ladies, who formerly flashed their Gucci and Prada possessions, now proudly shop H&M. There even is a chain of – fully legal – discount bordellos in Germany, called “Geizhaus.” (Their slogan is “Geiz macht geil.” The translation “stinginess makes horny” is absolutely appropriate, even if it lacks scientific proof.)
Coming back to cars, frugal vehicles are all the rage. Powered by the “Abwrackprämie,” sales of small&cheap rocketed up by nearly 100 percent in Germany last year. Small&cheap is also important to penetrate emerging markets. In the Volkswagen portfolio, launching a Geizauto under the Skoda brand would be a logical choice. Forget the “peoples’ car.” The Czech brand, bought by Volkswagen in 1991, has become the choice of “smart shoppers” in Europe and elsewhere. They know there is a Volkswagen underneath. But they usually find more value for less money in a Skoda. According to Reuters, “Skoda sold a record 684,226 cars last year, helped by car scrapping subsidies in western markets like Germany and expansion in China.”
(PS: Note that in the article above, I rejected the offerings of my synonym dictionary, and did not use “niggardly,” such as not to offend the hair-trigger sensitivities of some not so well advised readers. Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP during the niggardly controversy, said: “You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding.” As much as I hate it, I will. Having said that, anyone who accuses – without due, and carefully considered cause – writers or commentators of TTAC of racism, or who incites an on-line racial riot, will be banned without warning. It happened last night. Let it not happen again.)
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