VW's Czech brand to bring SUV, other products to its biggest market worldwide
SHANGHAI - Skoda Auto, the Czech unit of Volkswagen Group, said on Dec 10 that it will begin local production of its compact SUV Yeti in early 2013 at the joint venture between Volkswagen and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.
Winfried Vahland, board chairman of Skoda, made the announcement during his trip to China last week. The final agreement was inked by Skoda and Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive Co Ltd one day before the press conference.
Winfried Vahland, board chairman of Skoda
With local production of the Yeti, the brand will join the competition in the "big segment of SUVs" in China, a move that will "enhance the volume, image and brand awareness of Skoda heavily", Vahland said.
Skoda began cooperation with Shanghai Volkswagen five years ago and introduced its first locally built model, the compact Octavia, in 2007. A year later the subcompact Fabia followed and the mid-sized Superb rolled off the production line in 2009.
"We want to increase our share in the Chinese market and one way to increase share is to increase our product range," Vahland said, noting that the Yeti "will not be the end" and "more products will come".
Skoda's share of China's entire auto market was 1.4 percent last year, a figure the company plans to more than double by 2015, he said.
Zhang Hailiang, managing director of Shanghai Volkswagen, told China Daily that before the Yeti hits the market, the joint venture will roll out several other upgraded and all-new products in 2011 and 2012, but did not specify which models they will be.
Its dealer outlets across the country now have increased to 302.
"China will be the biggest market for Skoda worldwide in 2010," Vahland said, with about one-fifth of the brand's global sales.
"China and Shanghai Volkswagen will be the cornerstone for our future Skoda strategy."