Škoda Report

Bookmark and Share

Škoda Superb. Image Credit: Škoda Auto

Skoda Superb

Škoda Report 2012

By Geoff Wheatley

Back in the mid sixties when I lived in the UK several East European Cars were offered to the British public like the LADA from Russia, the Wartburg from East Germany also the Škoda from the Czech Republic. To be honest none were a threat to any British vehicles despite the problems that certain UK manufactures experienced.

The attraction of these imports was simply price as each car was subsidized by its respective government in order to obtain Western Currency. To my knowledge none of these cars were ever offered in the U.S. so the American driver was denied the pleasure of owning these Communist delights that often spent more time in the garage than on the road.

I recently visited Prague and noticed that there were several versions of the Škoda available. Furthermore they were modern in design following in the footsteps of the attractive European styling.

Škoda Superb. Image Credit: Škoda Auto

 Skoda Fabia

In interest I ventured into a Škoda Dealership that could have been off any highway in the USA, with shinning vehicles, smiling salesmen and women, free coffee and in place of a doughnut a delightful slice of cake or some other pastry. Everyone in this establishment spoke excellent English which was "Helpful", as my knowledge of the Czech language is minimum, make that very minimum.

I explained my presence and wondered if I could get a brief review of the success of Škoda. The manager invited me into his office, produced the cup of coffee and said..."Fire Away". My first Question: "Where are these cars sold?" I expected to hear in local and/or Eastern Europe but his reply certainly came as a surprise. "Last year we sold 250,000 to China in fact that is the principle export market for the brand. This year the figure is expected to increase by twenty per cent. Now add the fact that Škoda's are also manufactured in China at the Shanghai Volkswagen plant, "a joint venture between Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp".

(May I say that there can be little doubt that this association with VW has certainly boosted the appeal of Škoda both in Europe and overseas). AS A MATTER OF INTEREST, Leading the market share in China is Volkswagen with 15percent Toyota comes second with 6.5 percent and G.M. Third at 5 percent. China's national brands only have 5.6 percent of the market which tells us something about consumer taste in that country. Audi and Ford 2.9percent with Škoda at 1.5percent. At the bottom are Citroen and Peugeot at less than one percent. The annual sales of all the Škoda vehicles, which include Station Wagons, Convertibles, and the standard four door sedan, are 880,000 units with the objective of hitting 1.5 million by 2018.

Škoda Octavia. Image Credit: Škoda Auto

Skoda Octavia

The weak link in that forecast or any other from a foreign manufacturer is that once China with its low cost labor, can, and my guess certainly will, undercut any of imports by 2020 which is only a few years away. Returning to Škoda... I was offered a test drive in an Octavia, a family sedan equipped with all the trinkets including... Thank Goodness...a GPS! Manual drive, as are most cars in Europe, five speed box for economy... (Local gas hovering around $9 a gallon).

The result a smooth ride, good performance both on city roads and the highway, excellent breaking, soft to the touch but it car stopped on a dime! Price with the equipment based on current exchange rates $15,800. Or close. If you purchased the car in the Czech Republic you would have a VAT charge of 20percent... Not sure what it would be in China assuming that they have some form of sales tax. As far as I can tell the other two East European cars that I mentioned at the beginning are no longer around, but Škoda seems to have survived and developed into a successful enterprise. As a matter of interest the company started making cars in 1924 and had an excellent record for quality however, sad to say, this went out of the factory window in the post war years until VW came along and became a partner! Would I buy this car? At the price certainly, especially with the 75,000 KLM warranty that goes with the purchase! (Every thing except the tires!)

Allcarcentral.com is in no way associated with any automotive manufacture, race track, race event.
All automotive brand names, model names and event names are the property of the respective manufacture and event owners.