Volkswagen is busy converting its factory in Zwickau, Germany, to a manufacturing facility for electric cars. That’s where the range of vehicles it plans to build using its new MEB platform will be built. But Skoda, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, plans to build its own cars based on that chassis in the Czech Republic, where they will get a healthy dollop of Czech seasoning baked in.
It says it will offer three 100% battery electric cars based on the MEB chassis within the next 4 years and one of them will be an affordable 5 door hatchback that will be smaller than the ubiquitous Golf on the outside but with equivalent room for passengers on the inside. What exactly constitutes “affordable” has not been defined as of yet, but the parent organization says it is looking to offer at least one MEB-based electric car priced at about $22,500 within the next few years.
That car will be built at the company’s Kvasiny plant and will be part of the new “MEB entry family” of cars. The model is still in the planning stage, Skoda CEO Bernhard told Automotive News this week. “We are looking for a lower spec-ed car and once we have a positive business case we will come up with a clear solution. Electromobility is being developed in the heart of Skoda in the Czech Republic. That ensures the future of jobs here,” Maier said. That car is expected to go on sale in 2023.
Skoda’s flagship MEB electric car will be based on the Vision IV coupe crossover concept revealed at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. It will be joined by a second car based on the same concept, Maier said. The second vehicle is expected to be a more conventional SUV and will be built at Skoda’s Mlada Boleslav plant alongside the flagship model, which starts production in the second half of 2020 ahead of its market launch in early 2021.
Both vehicles will be built on the same line as the Skoda Octavia compact car. “That gives us a lot of flexibility. We can scale and adjust to some extent if customer demand changes,” Maier said.
Electric Car Demand Uncertain
Maier told the press this week that his company is still uncertain what the demand for electric cars will be. The company is targeting 25% EV sales by 2025. “Individual mobility will be more expensive, there’s no doubt about that. I don’t know how the customers will reflect on our offer. If our reference was those customers who have driven our electric cars in focus groups, then we can easily achieve 25 percent, but it is quite obvious the demand will be different if you talk to customers living in urban areas than those living in rural areas.” Customers in rural areas have concerns about charging and range, he said.
Those of us who are fans of electric cars may think a 25% sales penetration by 2025 is entirely too cautious, but when you are the head of a company that is responsible for the livelihood of thousands of workers, it’s not so easy to simply jump into the future with both feet. Skoda is unknown in North America but is well respected brand in Europe with a loyal customer base. It expects its electric cars to be world-class automobiles that reflect well on the company and its heritage.
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