By on July 29, 2016

Skoda (Bruno Kussler Marques/Flickr)

The hints keep piling up that the Škoda brand could one day arrive on our shores.

Volkswagen Group’s Czech subsidiary keeps dropping clues that it wants to enter the U.S. market, but the surging automaker’s CEO recently added his own voice to the rumor mill, according to Autocar. Company head Bernhard Maier said if the automaker does head to America, it already has the vehicle U.S. buyers want.

Speaking to Autocar at the launch of its Alaska-inspired Kodiaq SUV, Maier said the American market isn’t first on Škoda’s expansion list. South Korea, Singapore and Iran come first. Still, his comments reveal a clear interest in going after the U.S. buyer.

“If we do decide to compete in the US, we will have one chance to make a good first impression,” said Maier. “We feel that if we were there now, the Kodiaq would be a home-run car.”

While those three smaller Asian markets make sense for Škoda, the company can’t keep its eye off a much bigger prize.

“America is the one that we don’t currently compete in with the biggest potential,” said Maier.

The automaker is already conducting a feasibility study to see if the brand could make it in the U.S. (TTAC has its own thoughts on that.) Lately, the automaker has laid some groundwork — at the patent office, anyways. Over the last few months, Škoda filed trademark applications for several of its model names, the VRS performance badge, and “Skoda H-Tec.”

Despite the black clouds hovering over Volkswagen Group, Škoda is a bright light. The brand saw a record 569,400 deliveries in the first half of 2016, and is eager to grow its global footprint.

[Image: Bruno Kussler Marques/Flickr]

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68 Comments on “Skoda Teases America, Again: CEO Says the Kodiaq Would Be a ‘Home Run’ in the U.S....”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Given that the concepts promise something handsome and that looks a bit like a budget Range Rover (showing up the popular Explorer, which just looks like a budget LR4 / Discovery), the Kodiaq probably *would* be a home-run here. But launching a new brand here in the mainstream arena would be a disaster. It has enough straight lines and hard creases to be a Volkswagen; just bring it over with a VW-esque front clip and sell it as a Volkswagen.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Kodiaq according to a previous TTAC posting is “built on a stretched VW Tiguan platform.”

    Doesn’t sound like a home run vehicle to me. Unless priced below the Santa Fe and similar vehicles (Outlander?)

    Still, I would like to see Skoda come to North America.

    And what happened to BTSR?????????

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Except that I believe Volkswagen *is* going to sell a stretched Tiguan here. And that will probably do well. Like you say, it is essentially a stretched three-row compact vehicle; the only others that occupy the market are the Journey and the Outlander. The Journey does well because it’s cheap to acquire and cheap to own, but there is a market for a more-premium offering that occupies the same niche.

      BTSR got himself banned.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        But the place won’t be the same without BTSR!

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Exactly.

        • 0 avatar

          “But the place won’t be the same without BTSR!”

          Exactly. BTSR created lot of noise and I always skipped the whole threads started by him – read in every subject and usually the first one. Usually it was arguing about nothing, just waste of my time. DW was mightly irritating too, his posts were like broken record – the same thing over and over again with little or no relevance. Banning them made it easier to navigate this forum like in old days when only B&B participated and before TTAC comment section turned into circus.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Say wah? Did that happen like yesterday? He was being all non-caps and such and behaving (for the first time ever).

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          No, it happened earlier this week. The fact that you didn’t see the offending comment before it was removed means that we must be doing our job.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Can I ask which rule he violated? Self-promotion, or personal attack?

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Thank you so much! What a relief. Good riddance.

          • 0 avatar
            NickS

            Kyree, I love you man. Adam too. Or whoever did it.

            Thank you!

            @Nick – what a relief indeed.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            It’s been a tough week for Big Trucks.
            His favorite politician got a beat down in Philly, FCA got busted for lying about sales, and now he’s dumped from his favorite mouthpiece.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Hey Kyree and Adam,

            I echo the sentiment of Corey. When such a prominent commentator is banned, it would be nice to know “So and so has been banned, for excessive political trolling, for a period of 1 week.” or what have you.

            With DW, we were told it was a weekend and he has apparently chosen not to return.

          • 0 avatar
            Jimal

            I’d curious too. Sort of.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        I’ll take “Exciting Things That Happen On TTAC When I’m Away From The Site” for $200, Alex…serves me right for taking my daughter to Cirque du Soleil last night!

        Meanwhile, heading to Eastern Europe next week, so maybe I’ll do some Skoda spotting while there.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Kyree, No. Please rescind the banning. I find BTSR’s comments to be less offensive than some of those made by Jack B the misogynistic, ‘jack the lad’ wannabe.

        • 0 avatar
          Pete Zaitcev

          Sorry, BTSR is not worthy licking Jack’s boots. Also, in our current political climate “misogynistic” means “awesome” and “precious”. Update your newspeak dictionaries accordingly.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          BTSR was the comments version of receiving a Dutch oven.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Neither Kyree or I banned BTSR. As of now, we don’t wield that kind of power. Shoot a message to Mark if you are concerned. These kind of judgements rest with him.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Longtime reader, occasional commenter; I believe BTSR was banned for political comments/self-promotion. DW got into a losing argument with Bark about Bark’s qualifications. Did CJinSD get banned or bored? Any clarification would be appreciated.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            CJin got banned a long time ago. I think he might have made a long racist diatribe.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    I would buy a Skoda Octavia wagon with the performance package if they sold one. I know it’s a VW product and I’ve personally had some disdain for them but the siren song would be hard to resist.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Like I said on the other Skoda thread.
    If they want to be upscale, rent some mall space (there’s a ton of it available).
    If a bottom feeder, partner up with K-Mart.

    Either way no capital investment needed

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      By the way, Sears-K-Mart is very nearly bankrupt and is hemorrhaging money very quickly. Bad idea there.

      In a couple years time they’ll be on a list with Borders and Woolworth’s.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        I just mean lease some space from them for dealer points. The clientele coming in the doors would be the perfect subprime types if Skoda plans to market as a dirtbag brand.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          why do you talk like that? why is TTAC compacent with this? why do you equate financial modesty with dirtbags?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Nick_515,
            TTAC has been pretty clear about what the moderators will and will not tolerate.

            There is a recurring theme among some posters that essentially says that the poor and less fortunate deserve their fate. These few posters seek to villainize people who are different to prevent themselves from feeling empathy.

            It may be a sad way to live, but it isn’t against TTAC rules.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Vogo,

            i hit reply to my post since i don’t see a button on yours.

            Thank you so much for the explanation.

            I will try to call out such comments in a respectful way, without breaking the rules.

            I love the new TTAC!

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            If I was a Harvard MBA working at one of the Big Four consulting groups, I’d be getting paid 300 grand a year for brilliant ideas like that.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        The K-Mart I used to work at finally shut its doors in the beginning of June, and it had escaped the previous rounds of culling.

        Can’t wait for the whole company to go belly-up.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          They refused to compete and keep with the times (Sears), and got purchased by someone who was already flailing around (K-Mart).

          Combined, they’re just worse. You can’t keep an ancient business model afloat that way.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            You also can’t keep a workforce paying them minimum wage with little to no opportunity for advancement either…

            That’s why I and most of my young coworkers left in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Do they have K-marts with tire departments that are already set up with lifts and rear side parking? You’ve got to service cars too, if you sell them. Such facilities are common in Wal-Marts, but I’m not sure about K-marts.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Not any more, several years ago they sold all of their service centers, lock stock and barrel, to Penske who liquidated them not that long after the acquisition. So there were stores out there with the shop area and shop parking but who knows who many of those locations survive. I know that some of the locations around here that had them either closed the service center or the entire store before the Penske deal and the one store in my area that flew the Penske flag closed long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        VW/Skoda could contract with Pep Boys for the wrench work. The extra capacity PB added for Elios is currently underutilized.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I’ve said it earlier. I think the best idea would be to sell them at Audi stores. That way they would be looked at as Audi’s cheap brand.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    I wonder if VW has now fallen into the category of “damaged brand” and if they see launching Skoda as a sort of fresh start. They could move it through existing VAG dealer channels but I’d want to keep it as far from VW as possible. Honestly if Skoda were successful and Audi continued to do well I could see the VW brand becoming expendable in the US given their minuscule market presence anyway. Pretty easy to have Chattanooga Assembly slap the Skoda badge on whatever they are producing. I doubt they’ll do it though.

    Just out of curiosity though, Is there any chance VW could pull a GM here? Could VW America declare bankruptcy, spin Skoda and Audi (and Porsche) into “new VW” and leave VW as “old VW” and saddle old VW with the TDI liabilities?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Or maybe they will create room at the bottom by continuing to push Audi into a true premium brand, having VW or Skoda operate in the “not quite premium market” and having the leftover brand chase volume as a “German Chevrolet”

  • avatar
    RHD

    I would like to see more pictures and information about the Skoda Kodiaq. Maybe someone who ones one might want to post a review?

    Strange spelling, though – will they bother to fix it? (“No, because the Sorento and Cruze sell so well!”)

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t most (if not all) Skodas built on VW platforms in lower cost markets? In this case, why couldn’t Skodas be built as VWs for North America? This would allow VW to bring a lower cost product into the market (which was the point of Chattanooga), but still be able to market it as European product. Seems like they are duplicating efforts when it comes to product. Even some SEAT product could come here, but there’s no sense building another brand when VW needs rebuilt.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      I’m pretty sure building cars in the Czech Republic is cheaper than building them in Germany. I’m not sure if it’s cheaper than building cars in the U.S. It’s almost certainly not cheaper than building cars in Mexico, as VW does with the U.S. market Jetta. Czech Republic has a good reputation for engineering and workmanship, though.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      Basically they are built on current VW platforms but usually aiming for a lower price point and are somewhat limited in what technology they are able to incorporate. Historically they have also built larger cars on cheaper platforms than the VW of comparable size. The interiors isn’t as well finished as the VW offerings of similar size even if they share a LOT of interior parts.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Kind of nice looking and Sköda does seem to have a fair reputation. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Of course, if they happened to have an open-bed version of the Kodiaq, it’d probably be even more popular.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    Be ready. Rumor I saw was that Skoda was working on a coupe-SUV variant for the Kodiaq similar to the BMW X4/6.

  • avatar
    threeer

    If…if…brought in as a true seven-seater and also priced well below the Toureg, then maybe. Even then, the name has no familiarization with the general buying public. Would they advertise the connection to VW (assuming they decide to enter the US market)? Does VW have the patience to see if Skoda could become the next Hyundai/KIA? And why not simply badge both the Kodiaq and Yeti as VW models and just bring them over to make a more inclusive line-up of CUV/SUV (which is what the American consumer seems to want these days).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Skoda would be no home run in the US.

    After all the expense and trouble to set up shop in the US, they might sell 2000-3000 cars/month, which is Fiat/Jaguar territory, but with small margins.

    What’s going to make me buy a Skoda instead of a Kia? Warranty – no, Price – unlikely, Support – no, Performance – no, Utility – no.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Thank you. I attempted this on the other Skoda article a day or two ago, but the patrons of Forbidden Fruit Syndrome were not having any logic or commercial reasoning.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I just don’t know that many consumers who want to take a chance on a new brand with VW quality levels, but less sophistication.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          According to “them,” the lack of brand recognition equals a fresh start, because nobody will know it’s a VW underneath.

          As well, because it’s Czech made, we won’t know what the quality is like until we try it. The internet doesn’t exist, and there are no reviews from other countries on any Skoda product.

          Finally, they will be able to build and import them here for -cheaper- than regular VW, and easily pitch them against the established nameplates from Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai.

          Seriously, they believe all of the above.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            ” The internet doesn’t exist, and there are no reviews from other countries on any Skoda product.”

            Have you ever actually read any of the reviews you seem to be aware of? Their cars get rave reviews, and their sales reflect this reputation. They also have a great reputation for quality, though who knows how that translates to American customers since VW has always been a quality manufacturer to Europeans as well.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t be bothered, as I know the brand isn’t coming here. Sort of like the reviews for Ladas. They don’t really matter. :)

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            So, the Internet doesn’t exist so we must assume that because it is from Czechoslovakia, its garbage.

            And who would buy this over a Kia? Who would buy a Kia over a Chevy or Plymouth in 1994 when they came here? Not too many at first, but mentioning Kia (by the op of this thread) is a bit ironic since in the whole US market, its probably the youngest (full-line) brand sold here, yet is pretty well known. (I’m not counting Fiat or Mini as for one they don’t have full lineups, and in Fiat’s case especially, they were here before so not exactly unknown.)

            Tesla is another example. In a few years, they went from being the producer of an obscure little electric roadster to a household name with (supposedly) 300,000 eager buyers waiting on their next model. It takes time, but people do eventually catch on.

            So, yes, I do believe a new nameplate has the potential for success. I also believe we shouldn’t judge car quality we haven’t experienced yet. Call me crazy, but clearly the market will embrace a new name (even one from non-first world nation) and will give a carmaker a chance to prove themselves.

            You needn’t think of those with different opinions than yours as necessarily wrong and therefore deserving of your condescending tone. You didn’t bother to research Skoda or its reputation, yet you make fun of others who didn’t either, but just didn’t assume its as horrible as you do. Pot, meet kettle.

      • 0 avatar
        Hydromatic

        The grass is always greener on the other side.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Soon, Americans are going to be afforded an opportunity to purchase loathsome vehicles with all the problems of VW platforms and all the problems of sub-par assembly. I can hardly wait.

  • avatar

    Skoda was always VW’s last generation brand. When the tooling is changed because the car changes, the tooling goes East. Skoda makes it, so VW can get away with making two generations of car at at time. Since the US market is a rich hard currency location, they’d rather sell us Audi and some VW.

    German car makers have never done well mid or low end in the US. Keep in mind that the cars we get are the top line, or close to it. Germans build a lot of low end cars we don’t get, or miss….

    I can’t see VW launching a new brand…or figuring out the US market…ever…

    Do we want the last generation VW ? It makes sense in markets that have little money but the US market isn’t that one.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      This is not true at all. Skodas use the same generation platforms and engines as VWs, Seats, and the smaller Audis.

      I believe they may have done this once in the past, probably shortly after buying Skoda, but at this point the cars are just as modern as any other VWAG product.

  • avatar
    KM From AU

    So I am currently resisting the urge to buy a new Skoda Octavia down here. On price it adds up at less than the equivalent Golf with more niceties and slightly cheaper servicing.

    Given my 33,000km a year driving, I am craving to go to a Diesel to get a cost saving! (it’d equate to 33 tanks of fuel a year rather than 50 in my 2013 Mazda 3)


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