Reality Czech: If You're Waiting for Skodas in America, Prepare to Wait Even Longer

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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reality czech if you re waiting for skodas in america prepare to wait even longer

Nothing stirs up enthusiasts and cynics quite like the potential launch of a new brand in the United States. Over the past several years, we’ve reported on the motions being made by established European players eager for a thin wedge of the country’s huge car-buying pie — players like PSA group, which is now in the early days of a decade-long return to the U.S. marketplace.

Less exciting, especially considering the level of zeal expressed for quirky French cars, is the rumored emergence of the Skoda brand on this side of the Atlantic. Once a lesser player in the Volkswagen Group fold, the Czech automaker is enjoying huge sales increases. There’s a diverse lineup of vehicles, including a seemingly made-for-America SUV, the Kodiaq. The brand even filed trademark applications for model names.

So, should we expect a go-ahead decision in the months ahead, like the brand’s leadership hinted at last year? Nope. Skoda has better things to do.

According to Autocar, Skoda is too tied up with a new vehicle project to worry much about the United States. Because of this, U.S. expansion plans are firmly resting on the back burner.

What has Skoda’s braintrust too busy these days? A recent partnership with India’s Tata Motors to co-develop a low-priced vehicle for emerging markets. The U.S. may have legions of car-hungry buyers, but so too do other countries, some of which — like India — are following in the footsteps of China, which has seen private car ownership skyrocket in recent years.

“We will need more time to work on the US plans now,” said Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier. “The Group has asked us to lead development of a platform with a strong focus on India and to investigate building that business sustainably and in a predictable manner.”

“That is a huge task, and we must always approach projects one step at a time,” he continued. “There is no hurry to rush into the US and no deadline to even decide if we should be looking to go there. There’s no need to make a decision right away.”

If you’ll recall, Skoda said it would deliver a firm “yes” or “no” on the U.S. question by the end of this year. In August of 2016, Maier told a German newspaper, “When we talk about our plans until 2025, then you cannot leave out one of the most important car markets in the world. Therefore, we examine under what conditions and with what cars the entrance to the U.S. market would be possible.”

Some of that groundwork included filing trademark applications, including ones for the hot Octavia VRS sport sedan and Yeti SUV. Still, while several of the brand’s vehicles could find favor with U.S. buyers (Maier calls the three-row Kodiaq a “slam dunk”), naysayers remain. Among them, Volkswagen brass, who feel Skoda’s SUVs would compete with its utility-heavy U.S. comeback plan, potentially cannibalizing sales.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Oct 23, 2017

    Introducing Skoda to the US would be pouring money like a firehose down into a bottomless well.

  • Ash78 Ash78 on Oct 23, 2017

    Talking about Skoda in the US is like talking about the Scirocco in the US. It only works when you're a gigantic automaker in a region. Toyota has Lexus and had Scion (now dead)...because they're Toyota. Ford, Lincoln, but Mercury is dead. know the story. Those are three of the largest automakers in world history and couldn't manage more than a couple brands. How on earth we think a 2% automaker (in the US) could offer even more vehicles to cannibalize their turnaround is a mystery to me. They'll be lucky if the Atlas doesn't kill the Tiguan. Skoda and SEAT work in Europe because (a) there is enough demand that you can have "overflow" into other brands and (b) there is a degree of historical regional pride -- the Spanish will buy SEATs, the Czechs will buy Skodas, and most of the rest of Europe will tend toward VW.

    • MBella MBella on Oct 24, 2017

      One idea that was floated around last year bin the comments of a similar article was to sell them at Audi dealers. Have it be Audi's value brand. It would make sense because of Audi's good brand image.

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.