Most people in the eastern half of Europe have fond memories of ŠKODA's iconic models – the ŠKODA 100s and 120s –, while the newer models FABIA and OCTAVIA have been family cars for generations. The Czech brand has undergone a huge transformation in recent years, not only by becoming one of the leaders in electromobility, but also by completely changing its model range.
ŠKODA's brand director in Hungary, János Németh explains to Diplomacy&Trade how the Czech car manufacturer has come from an affordable small car brand to one known for company limousines and to a premium segment electric sports car.
According to the European Union's latest mobility regulation, from 2035, cars with conventional internal combustion engines may no longer be sold in the member states. As to how ŠKODA will be able to adapt to this regulation, the brand director reassures everybody that “fortunately, we don't have anything to worry about regarding this deadline, we already have electric models and our portfolio will continue to expand, with three new electric models planned to be launched by 2030. We also aim to have at least 50% of sales of pure electric models by 2030. This way, as the electromobility transition accelerates, we will meet the 2035 deadline without any concerns. In fact, we plan to complete ŠKODA’s transition even sooner. By the way, electromobility is not the only solution for adapting to the 2035 regulations. Synthetic fuel could also be an option. Today at ŠKODA, we believe that the future of mobility is based on electricity, but we are aware of the fact, that maybe, there will be other ways to reduce the CO₂ emission of passenger cars to zero.”
Aiming for affordable, safe and modern models
One of ŠKODA's biggest advantages over its competitors was price: ŠKODA customers could buy models of satisfactory quality at a low price. In reaction to the question whether existing ŠKODA customers will be able to afford the more expensive electric cars, János Németh notes that “in the current economic situation, everyone has to accept the unfortunate fact that they will not be able to buy a new car cheaply. I would add that new cars have never really been cheap. And the reason why our current prices are higher than they were years ago is because we are gradually changing category with the ŠKODA brand. Our latest electric model, the ENYAQ COUPÉ RS iV, is now clearly in the premium category, with advanced driver assistance systems and a very advanced electric powertrain. It brings technologies to a modern ŠKODA model that have been the preserve of classic large German luxury brands. So, naturally, the prices are going up, which means that our customer base is changing: our current task is to show how much ŠKODA can offer a customer. Of course, the engineers are also working on electric models that will be more widely affordable, because we don't want to become a luxury car brand: the aim is still to deliver affordable, safe and modern models to customers.”
ŠKODA going electric
When speaking of electric models, the issue of range problem often comes up. Of course, when considering this, one needs to take a look at the related infrastructure in place to see whether electromobility transition a reality in a given market. As to what a car manufacturer can do to help this electric transition, ŠKODA's brand director in Hungary voices his opinion that this country already has the infrastructure in question. “I've been going to business meetings with an electric ENYAQ model for quite some time now, I've been visiting dealerships with it. I spend a lot of time on the road, so I can say from first-hand experience that Hungary is already well placed in terms of charging infrastructure. It is true that we need a more advanced network than the one we have now to be able to deploy electric cars on a massive scale, but the network is constantly being developed. The world of mobility is undergoing huge changes and it will take time. As former CEO of the Volkswagen Group, Herbert Diess said, the change in mobility that will come with electric cars is the same as the change that happened when man switched from horse-drawn carriages to cars. Anything new is difficult and the transition takes effort and time. We cannot develop infrastructure, but we can develop cars. Our ENYAQ COUPÉ iV model can now cover up to 500 kilometers without charging, which is close to the range of a petrol car. In the future, as technology develops, we plan to launch models with even greater ranges. I've already seen it in ŠKODA models that will be launched in the second half of the decade, and I'm absolutely amazed by what I've seen. It's innovative, novel and progressive, while still embodying the brand's core values of ergonomics, precision, care, and practicality for families. I look forward to introducing these models to a wide audience soon,” he concludes.
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