‘If anyone can revitalize sedans, it is us’: Why Skoda is betting big on Slavia
When was the last time the Indian car market saw an absolutely brand new mid-size sedan make its debut? When was the last time a mid-size sedan had its global unveil in India? And when was the last time a company openly backed its sedan to possibly make a strong impression on customers who have largely shown a growing inclination for SUVs of all shapes, sizes and varying price points? If you find yourself scratching your head for the answers, Skoda Slavia is promising to make you forget the past and usher in a new dawn in the country's fading mid-size segment.
Skoda Slavia was recently unveiled to the world and will initially be an India exclusive. But while Skoda played to the gallery when it drove in its Kushaq SUV earlier in the year, the Czechs are looking at a switch hit with the Slavia. Gamble? Zac Hollis begs, no demands, to differ. “You have to consider why this segment has fallen. Partly it is because of consumer taste but partly it is because manufacturers aren't lunching new cars," explains the Director for Sales and Marketing for Skoda Auto India. “If you look at the sedan segment in India in the last few years, nobody has launched anything new. There's no exposure to the sedan."
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Hollis, therefore, is sure that with the Slavia positioned as a new and premium mid-size sedan, there is enough room for the taking. “I am not worried about the sedan segment. I don't think it is dying, it has lacked focus. We are bringing the focus back with a gorgeous-looking car," he says. “Our ambition is to sell 2,500 to 3,000 cars (Slavia) a month, our ambition is to be a segment leader. If anyone can revitalize sedan segment, it is us because we are famous for delivering great sedans for the last 20 years."
So what kind of customers may now perhaps turn attention towards Slavia and the segemnt overall? Hollis admits that to be a segment leader, Slavia will have to be priced competitively. He also adds that there may be a large number of car-buying audiences who will take a liking for the upcoming Skoda. “We will attract traditional Octavia buyers because Octavia has gone up in price, partly because it is CKD and is affected by exchange rates and partly because of the technologies in the car. There will also be buyers looking to go up from sub-four metre sedans, sub-10-lakh price range because their lifestyle improves. Then there may be some people who come back from SUVs and hatchbacks because they want something new," Hollis says.
But will all the factors that Hollis explains help Slavia find a firm footing in its hunt for the crown? Lined up for an early 2022 launch, the newest Skoda may be a calculated risk and time will reveal its path ahead.