Škoda Auto offers new versions with SUV models on the horizon

Škoda Superb Combi, photo: CTK

Škoda Auto has shown off new versions of its Superb models in a bid to boost ebbing sales of the top of the range model. Overall sales are still strong but a drop off in China could be a cause for concern if it is not reversed in the coming months.

Škoda Superb Combi,  photo: CTK
‘Pimped up’ versions of existing models are a favourite way for manufacturers to cash in on their past research and development and the fact that the productions lines are tooled up for existing models. They can also act as a handy stop gap move to tide things over before the launch of a new model range.

Thus the Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto rolled out its new Superb Combi and Sportline versions at the Frankfurt motor show on Tuesday. There are extras and the sales price can also be added to as well. Škoda Auto says orders for the new version of its top of the range model are already looking good although Superb sales have been recently on a downward slide.

The new model is clearly a stopgap move, though there is no hint of desperation in this. The car producer is already operating at full capacity with an extra Saturday shift added at its main Mladá Boleslav plant. Sales of the existing models, including the top selling Octavia, are holding up relatively well even though they are often now competing with much newer models from rivals.

Škoda Auto in the first six months of the year saw sales rise 4.2 percent to 544,300 units, Markets in Western Europe are performing strongly. In spite of worries, China has been holding up well, though a strong start to the year has been blighted by a fall off in sales over the summer months.

In August, Chinese sales dropped to 19,100 compared with 21,600 in the same month in 2014. China is Škoda Auto’s single biggest market. Purchases are also down in Russia and have plummeted in some of the neighbouring countries closely linked to it.

Overall August sales were down 3.4 percent compared with 2014 at 70,700 with the Chinese drop accounting for most of the erosion. Recent stock market tensions have delayed purchases of major items so the car maker will probably be looking anxiously whether this is just a blip or the start of a trend.

Škoda Auto meanwhile is gearing up for the launch of its new sports utility vehicle models. The first, seven-seat version, should start rolling off the production lines next year. Bosses say they envisage three SUV models in total with perhaps an addition model based on the dimensions of the current Fabia.