Czech Republic-based automaker Skoda is on a high in India and is now looking to ride the country’s rising electric vehicle (EV) wave.
Skoda had a record-breaking 2022 in the country, with India becoming its largest non-European market for the first time ever. “We have achieved 53,721 unit sales in 2022, which were more than twice the unit sales in the previous year,” Skoda brand director Petr Solc said on Jan. 6 during a press meet.
Eyeing double-digit growth in 2023, the Volkswagen Group company is now looking to launch its own electric cars. “Enyaq is the first electric model in Skoda’s global range. Skoda is ready to export the cars. We (India) would like to be the next market where Skoda will bring Enyaq,” Solc said.
Skoda’s first-ever electric car in India
The Enyaq iV will be imported to India as a completely built unit (CBU) from the company’s plant in Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic. Unfazed by India’s higher taxes on CBUs—something that’s discouraged the US’s Tesla from entering the market—Solc said Skoda’s SUV is now being tested for India.
“The company would like to test the demand and if demand is high, we can think of the next steps,” he said, referring to local manufacturing.
Available in five modes—Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Traction—Enyaq iV gets charged from 10% to 80% in 36 minutes, Skoda has said. Powered by 82KWh battery, the SUV is expected to cost up to 60 lakh rupees ($73,329) in India, though the official price tags aren’t out yet.
If Skoda’s plan works, it may introduce other electric models, too, in India, including those produced domestically.
Possible challenges in Skoda’s way
The Czech company’s premium pricing in a price-sensitive Indian market, especially amid rising inflation worries, could dent its current growth momentum.
The world’s third-largest auto sector is already facing a lull, according to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), an industry body in India. Luxury carmakers like Mercedes have already expressed fears over low sales.
Things are grimmer for EVs, a segment that merely constitutes 1% of total sales in the country. To sustain or survive, both local and global players must take into account affordability, experts believe.
“...Only vehicles with a high level of localization and adoption of cheaper but efficient technologies can companies penetrate the common man’s and Indian EV sector’s needs,” Rohit Sharma, director of engineering at the Noida-based JD Concord Design Solution, an automotive-tech firm, told Quartz.
In these conditions, it would be interesting to see if Skoda wins its electric bet.