By on July 27, 2016

Skoda Octavia VRS

Czech vehicle names and badging are piling up at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, adding fuel to the rumors of a stateside Škoda launch.

On July 14, Škoda Auto filed a trademark application for VRS, which is the performance variant of the brand’s Octavia lineup. If the Czechs do invade the American marketplace, they might bring something fun with them. 

A month ago, Škoda filed for use of the “Skoda H-Tec” name, but the rumor mill mother lode came in late May, when the Volkswagen-owned automaker filed trademark applications for “Skoda Superb”, “Superb”, “Octavia”, and “Yeti.” That’s an entire lineup of vehicles, even though the company hasn’t sold a product in the U.S. since the early 1960s.

Parent company Volkswagen Group hasn’t said anything about its plans for the surging European brand. The trademark filings could simply be a way for the company to preserve the names, even if it has no plans to use them.

Still, Volkswagen’s starting to show some newfound flexibility in the post-emissions scandal era, and a U.S. Škoda introduction can’t be ruled out. Vojta Dobeš, TTAC’s resident Czech, speculated that Volkswagen could abandon its traditional entry-level passenger car lineup and slot Škoda vehicles into that market niche.

Volkswagen’s putting most of its U.S. development efforts into cranking out money-making crossovers and SUVs. The guilt-ridden company also wants to be an electric car leader. Where does that leave someone looking for an affordable, gas-powered econobox with European pretensions?

Škoda’s star is rising overseas. Just today, the brand announced record sales in the first half of this year. With 569,400 deliveries in the first half of 2016, the brand’s sales performance topped last year’s figures by 4.6 percent.

[Image: Škoda Auto]

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61 Comments on “Something Hot (and Foreign) This Way Comes? Skoda Trademarks VRS Name in U.S....”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So, bring in Skoda? Sell cars under a name that almost no one is familiar with, instead of a name that is now mud?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t know about their name being now mud. Based on my informal surveys, a lot of people didn’t hear about VW’s TDI scam in the first place, and those that did hear about the scandal but weren’t affected simply don’t care.

      Volkswagen’s perpetual woes seem to stem from (a) building non-competitive or overpriced products in the U.S., and (b) scorning waves of people with the dreadful Mk.3 and Mk.4-era stuff. But I think they could do brisk business if they had better or more market-appropriate products. They need to hire some product planners from Ford or something; those guys know what they’re doing.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        All that I have read over the past decade about VW products has been that they break too often and the service departments are unfriendly. That’s enough to scare me away even though I also read that they are rewarding to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          In my experience, having owned three VWs, the service departments are very friendly. They’ll tell you over caviar that your V10 Touareg TDI’s engine is basically irreparable, and will have to be replaced…but that there’s a six-month backorder on refurbished units from Germany. And they even provide the lube when they, you know…

          • 0 avatar
            NickS

            What Kendal said.

            VW’s dealers have proven to most VW owners I’ve known over the years that even with a 10-year warranty you’ll get the high-friction treatment. (Kyree, lube or no-lube it’s still rape).

            And let’s not forget VW’s tone-deafness to their peculiar issues that must be litigated for years before settling, leaving owners hanging in the meantime. My neighbors, both loyal VW customers for several models, agonized over some stupid oil bolt issue, and other such crap and finally switched to Subaru, never to come back.

            Every generation of VW owners has every reason to feel betrayed. We can call the TDI folks a special case maybe, but it’s an open question how many will stay with the brand, and I would argue that keeping them with the brand has less to do with the cheating and betrayal and much more to do with the values they are offered for buyback.

          • 0 avatar
            brettc

            I don’t know about the free lube thing. I had to pay $7 for a litre of 507 00 oil when I first bought my close to $30k car.

            Still have that oil though as it hasn’t consumed any oil in 50k miles. So that counts for something.

        • 0 avatar
          TOTitan

          In eight years and 140,000 miles my daughters 08 rabbit has needed two light bulbs, one battery, one set of brake pads, and two sets of tires. Thats it, plus it handles better than anything from Asia in its class. BTW brand new it was only $18,000. Dont believe all the horror stories

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            You have the 5-cylinder Rabbit Golf with either the 5-speed manual or traditional 6-speed automatic. According to Consumer Reports, this was possibly the most reliable vehicle that VW has ever sold in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            FerrariLaFerrariFace

            Glad to hear it. But just because your particular car has been trouble-free, doesn’t mean that the particular model, in general, is so.
            Blind squirrels, nuts, and such.
            I mean, there are Yugos out there somewhere that are still running. Well, one Yugo. Maybe. Somewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            TOTitan

            FerrariLaFerrariFace I think there is more to it than that. Our Rabbit was made in Germany, and they seem to have less issues than those made at the Puebla plant. Also it has a 2.5L I5 that many refer to as a boat anchor, but is probably one of the most reliable engines VW has ever made. The 6 speed tiptronic transmission also has a good record. I doubt very much if any of the Yugos were reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            vwgolf420

            My 2010 Golf is the same. The battery is the only thing I’ve replaced (fingers crossed) and I’ve had since new.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t think we should read too much into this. Those cars are not ready for the US market, and the cost to get them so would be high. Then, you’ve essentially got a Jetta with some slightly different front and rear clips.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Yeah, this doesnt make sense. “Whats a skoda?” would be the most likely reply from most people ’round these parts. “Oh, its a downmarket VW?”

    Don’t see it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Not gonna happen. The article link already covered this discussion:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/06/skoda-in-america-does-it-make-sense/

    VW is a damaged brand, and it makes no sense to introduce a parallel sub-brand to ‘help’, at enormous expense and effort, and in a shrinking passenger car market.

    They need to repair the leaky roof in their own house, not build an addition.

  • avatar
    wolfman3k5

    They’re stupid enough to try…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Competition in the small sedan class is already pretty ruthless and the Chinese iron hasn’t arrived yet.

    Do they try and market Skoda as a “premium Euro brand” or the dirtbag subprime special? If the former they could be like Fiat and lease mall space for the sales points to avoid any capital investment. Or the latter put them in the remaining K-marts.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      “Chinese iron” try tin, has not much to recommend it

      • 0 avatar
        cornellier

        racist much?

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Are the dems moving the r-word to trade now? Since enforcing immigration laws is racist, I suppose any kind of a tariff on a good could be racist by the same logic. Unfortunately for that school of thought, Hillary is going to lose though.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Lol, what the hell is racist about that?

          Hey, I saw a black guy jaywalking yesterday.

          Look! I’m a racist now, too! Something negative + an association with a non-white person = RACIST FOR POINTING IT OUT.

          If your “white guilt” is such that something as innocent as saying that Chinese cars are of low quality causes you to lash out like that, you need to stop going to Democrat rallies.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Looks like the bastard child of a Kia Optima Turbo and a Saab 9-5 Aero.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I remember them Skodas running on air-cooled engines. But now it is just VW. And they got some phrase in Europe in the last 3 years. Interestingly, in Slavic languages the work “Shkoda” means “trouble” and “shkodnik” is a troublemaker.

    But making it in US market is different issue. Suzuki, Saab were much more familiar to US and died. Volvo, Mitsu – almost died. Scion finally becoming Toyota too. Fiat is barely surviving. I see trend going into opposite direction. And if Skoda will sell only performance models, it is going to be very small niche. And without CUV there is no success in the US

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      It is how you promote and the products you are promoting. Chevrolet, Buick, Lincoln and Corvette are pretty unfamiliar here and US cars in general have been troublesome . A parallel with VW in the US

  • avatar
    threeer

    While I love me some Rapid Spaceback (maybe because it reminds me of my recently-departed Lancer Sportback), I just can’t see Skoda making it here. VW is already damaged enough and doesn’t carry enough weight to make huge gains in sales…going even further down-market (that’s what I think Skoda would be seen as) won’t help. The Yeti and Kodiaq could maybe, just maybe (because SUV/CUV!) make it here, but likely in extremely limited numbers and not enough to spend the effort and money to federalize.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Skoda could be the next Hyundai, starting out cheap and slowly improving. They are what VW was decades ago – stripped models, inexpensive, but certainly sufficient for the task. If they promote their quality and value, and are actually a good value for dependable cars, they can establish a good reputation and make a go of it.
      The dealership experience has to be above average, though, or they will be doomed.
      They definitely need a decent CUV, and a small, tough, inexpensive utilitarian pickup truck would seal the deal.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Everything you just described is everything any current VAG product/dealer/service is -not-.

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          > Everything you just described is everything any current VAG product/dealer/service is -not-.

          This, a million times over.

          @RHD – you are itemizing a laundry list of not at all trivial problems VW must fix with its NA operation. Just having a CUV is trivial to fix.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        I don’t think you understand what Skoda is. They were crappy (and cheap) cars, produced behind the iron curtain, in the former Czechoslovakia, but now they are merely VW models with different fascias and lesser packaging. Nothing more! They are no Hyundai, and there is no possible improvement beyond what VW gives them to work with.

  • avatar
    rp2s

    So, Volkswagen found another way to sell their craptastic cars in the US.
    Not for me. Let’s see that dealer network, Skoda.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      No, try reading again.

      • 0 avatar
        rp2s

        Maybe you should. It’s not so cut-n-dry. You may, or may not see these cars in the US, but it’s still on the table. No problem, I’ll stick with my Suzuki Kizashi GTS + it’s paid for and has been quite reliable.

        • 0 avatar
          Paragon

          Good for you, rp2s. Was sad that it was necessary for Suzuki to leave, not long after coming out with the great Kizashi, which surprisingly never real caught on. I admit I wanted one but wasn’t in the market for a new car at the time. I actually looked at and sat in a new one on the showroom floor. Then, several years later, drove one on a used car lot.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Right idea, wrong brand. I much prefer the look of Seat products. But, as long as they bring over a hot wagon (which they absolutely would never do) I’ll be happy.

    Heck, the slogan practically writes itself:

    “Why don’t you have a Seat right over there”

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Agree! SEATs are visually distinct. Skodas are not. I would like to see that happen, and it even makes sense, as there might even be some affinity within the Hispanic community towards buying “Spanish.”

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I don’t think SEAT is pronounced that way.

      I believe it is more like “Sea-at”
      “sea” as in seafood, and “at” as in “at the store”.

      I think the word Skoda will go over just fine, besides, it be very fun to watch people selling them on craigslist in the future find a way to horribly misspell it, like CamEro, CamEry. Toras, Izuzu, Hunday, Buick LeSable, Cadillac Devil and Ford Crown Victory.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Shoot, sell ’em through Chrysler stores…plenty of room there…

    I must confess that the Yeti name is pretty cool.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Many of you posting have no idea what a Skoda is all about. While they were under Russian control most of the cars that they manufactured were 2 cycle 4 door and 2 door sedans. Very well built. I drove one in Helsinki and found it a great winter car. You should Google the company. They have been in business for many years and also built Locomotives, Trolley cars and heavy duty trucks. They are very well thought of in Europe. Most of the new models follow the Golf and Jetta line. I was in a New Skoda in Italy 3 weeks ago a Taxi and the driver said he had already 60,000 kilometers on the car and loved it. Many Germans also buy the car because it is cheaper then the German VW’s model for model.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’m with Cabriolet. When I was in London about 10 years ago, I spoke to a number of Skoda owners. To a one, they said Skodas were less expensive, better built and more reliable than the VW model on which they were based. I actually got to drive an Octavia. I was impressed. So impressed that I wrote to Skoda, urging them to come to the U.S. They responded and said they were interested in the American market – but weren’t quite ready. It’s now a decade later. Perhaps the time has finally come. I’d be interested.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Yes, this is spot on.

      VW could and probably should bring Škoda over and market it against Hyundai/Kia/Nissan and have vehicles competitively priced against other mainline brands like Ford/Chevy/Toyota/Honda/etc. Even if VW stays in the range of the higher trim versions of the latter brands, the presence of a budget brand could save them from having to cheapen quality of interior materials and stuff. This ability to keep the cars a cut above other non-luxury brands would at least make their cars a unique proposition. You can only make a Passat SEL so nice once you’re building it based on a car that has been engineered to price match the Passat S against an Accord LX. But if the lowest Passat trim competes against the Accord EX-L or so, then it can be specifically designed and engineered to that price point without having to cut corners.

      This would leave VW to go back to being a “tweener” type brand with authentic European type vehicles rather than getting stuck in between with Americanized product that doesn’t have the real appeal of the Euro products or the ability to compete with American and Japanese manufacturers.

      Plus, Škoda is a completely unknown brand in America so that it can appeal to people who are prejudiced against either VW specifically or German cars in general.

      It could also make some sense to get some VW dealers to convert to Škoda franchises, as VW has more dealerships than they need for a brand their size.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “VW could and probably should bring Škoda over and market it against Hyundai/Kia/Nissan and have vehicles competitively priced against other mainline brands like Ford/Chevy/Toyota/Honda/etc.”

        You all are missing the fact that they aren’t -that- much cheaper than the VW version in countries where both cars are sold. Furthermore, the cost of federalization would be high. On top of that, no brand recognition is a BAD thing in this case, not a good one. And in conclusion, establishing an entirely new dealer network is expensive, especially if the cars are necessarily priced below VW options.

        And let’s consider economies of scale, shall we? There’s a reason Honda, Toyota, and Nissan can build HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of cheap cars and send them here for cheap. VW/Skoda does not have this economy. Nor would there be some giant Nissan Altima sized market for Skodas. They’d be in a niche somewhere around Volvo-sized, if they’re lucky.

        You also might have noticed that VW isn’t in the best financial position currently, and have sort of been caught with their hand in the diesel jar.

        You’re dreamin, gotta wake up.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I don’t get it, Corey, why would the cost of federalization be so high since they are so heavily based on VW models already sold here? Crash worthiness and emissions should already pretty much be in the bag.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Most likely our headlight regulations (that’s why we have no French cars after all), and emissions.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            They’re going to use the same powertrains as VWs and Audis. There shouldn’t be much trouble at all certifying emissions.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Corey, sorry but I am going to have to disagree here.

          VW is sitting on piles of cash, enough to handle the buy-outs associated with the diesel scandal and still have piles remaining.

          Not being a recognized brand is not a bad thing. Lots of newly introduced brands over the past few decades. Being new it will not have any negative associations or be considered an ‘old fogey brand’.

          Czech production/manufacturing generally has a decent reputation for quality. Combined with relatively low labour costs, could make for a good ‘value’ product. Much like the Korean brands.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Lots of ways to interpret this, but I think the most easy to explain theory is: “We’re hedging our bets and floating trial balloons.”

    It’s not inconceivable that VW would want to get a fresh start in the US market, and introducing a brand nobody has heard of would be a way to do that.

    The cost, however, of launching a new brand, and the long term investment required to build that brand, are astronomical.

    The vast majority of people are staying away from VWs not so much because of diesel gate or quality issues (look at Jeep reliability ranking versus sales) but simply because VW is not fielding competitive products in hot segments.

    Proof is in the huge upswing in Tiguan sales over the last year, which would be higher if VW would allocate more supply to North America. This is a product that is old, stale and only recently price competitive – and yet people are buying them faster than VW can ship them.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I for one welcome a new brand to this market, the more choice, the better and I think Skoda has some good looking cars. If they prove to be better built, that could really turn things around.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “If they prove to be better built, that could really turn things around.”

      Given they’re:
      -Czech built
      -Built to a price cheaper than VW
      -Intended generally for lower-end markets

      Do you think that’s likely?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        We won’t know for sure until we judge them for ourselves.

        Look how far the Koreans have come in all those areas. Just because a car is built in Czechoslovakia doesn’t mean it must be awful and there’s no chance for anything decent. VWs built in Mexico aren’t great, but many other models like Ford Fusion that are built there are of pretty decent quality. Sometimes, quality is high when you can tell your non-unionised worker who’s entire family depends on his paycheck “either get the trim on correctly, or I’ll find someone who will”. Its all about how well managed the factory is, and its unfair to judge them without merit or proof.

        Besides, if they are indeed targeted at the lower end, does it really matter that they aren’t up to Lexus standards?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Fine, you all win. They’re definitely going to establish a new brand here, and it’s going to be Skoda. It will absolutely work, and will reflect VW cars with different clips and magically better quality, all at lower cost!

          What’s the recommended dosage to treat Forbidden Fruit Syndrome, or FFS for short?

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Not to be a poor sport but the correct name is Czech Republic. Slovakia is another country. Been that way for a few years and KIA has quite a large factory there. I did business with Slovakia for quite a few years. Some American companies are based in that country. Would like to mention names but not the right thing to do.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    The Skoda Yeti could be a big hit in the US, where we love us some Kia Soul. Then again, it could be a big flop in the US, where we hate us some Fiat 500L. The compact-tall-wagon space is very fickle: witness the market’s rapturous reception for the first-gen Scion xB vs. its utter disdain for the second-gen xB, even though the second-gen was undoubtedly more pleasant to live with on the daily.

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