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Skoda mulls image overhaul as a premium brand in India

Snapshot: Aims to fill the space vacated by Honda when they pulled out the Civic & Accord sedans in India.

The Indian arm of the Czech automaker, Skoda Auto is mulling to undertake an overhaul, in order to position itself as a seller of premium vehicles and targets sustainable profits over sales volume. The Volkswagen Group is currently eyeing to occupy the space vacated by Honda Cars India when the Japanese carmaker pulled the plug on the Civic and the Accord premium sedans in the Indian market.

The parent company is understood to have given a lot more latitude to the local management than before to run the show and therefore, the said revamp is being led by Sudhir Rao, managing director of Skoda India. “There is always a debate raging inside, whether to move to the mass market or stay premium. Initially, the thought was to run behind the volumes, but is now clear, we will not come down the perch of premium-ness.” Rao said in a statement. “Skoda will remain an aspirational brand and never be a budget brand. While, the Indian market continues to be price sensitive, but with time, we are sure, people will value good build quality, drivability and safety.” He further added.

Other major issue that the automaker plans to focus on, is to change the perception that Skoda cars are expensive to own, maintain and service. The company claims that customer issues and satisfaction will be given top priority. Customer grievances and concerns will be addressed in weekly reviews and top-level meetings. The automaker has also deployed more employees on the diesel to tackle customer problems.

Last year, Skoda India discontinued the loss-making Fabia hatchback and instead, diverted its focus on the Octavia and the Superb premium sedan, in order to achieve leadership position in the premium end of the mid-size sedan space. Under the leadership of Mr Rao, the company has taken some tough calls of rationalising products. Re-introduction of the Fabia hatchback and the launch of a new global SUV is closely looked at, but they unlikely to hit the showrooms before 2016. At the moment, the company will continue to focus on the Rapid, Octavia, Super and the Yeti SUV.

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