Undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic, Skoda launches three new models

Škoda on Tuesday launched SUV Karoq (pictured) and variants of Rapid and Superb at ex-showroom price Rs 24.99 lakh, Rs 7.49 lakh and Rs 29.99 lakh. The Karoq is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine
Skoda Auto India, the local arm of the Czech carmaker, has no plans to cut back on the investment planned as part of the India 2.0 strategy despite the pandemic bruising sales and denting the economy in the worlds’ fifth largest auto market, Skoda Auto India's brand director Zac Hollis told Business Standard on a Zoom call.

“We won’t be revisiting or changing our investment plans for India and we're ready with our product launches. We won’t do anything that damages our long-term prospects in India or delays our product launches. But we are looking at all our costs very carefully,” Hollis said. Two years ago, the Volkswagen Group announced its plans to invest Rs 8,000 crore as part of rebooting its operations in India.

On Tuesday, the Volkswagen Group company launched three new models virtually — the first auto company to do so since the lockdown started in March.

The models it launched are the new Rapid 1.0 TSI, the new Superb, as well as the all-new Karoq, at starting prices of Rs 7.49 lakh, Rs 29.99 lakh, and Rs 24.99 lakh, respectively.  Skoda had unveiled these models at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida in February. They were to go on sale last month, but that was delayed because of the pandemic. The vehicles will go on sale on

70 per cent of Skoda’s network from Wednesday.

Skoda has launched the models at a time when the pandemic and lockdown have sapped sentiments and India is staring at a recession. Rating agency CRISIL has predicted the country’s gross domestic product to contract 5 per cent in fiscal 2021. The first quarter will suffer a massive contraction of 25 per cent, it said on Tuesday.

While Hollis was worried about the demand scenario and doesn’t see it recovering till the festive season, a strong need for personal mobility will drive demand for cars, he said, adding that several inquiries about the new models had prompted the company to go ahead with the launch. “We had to time this very carefully,” he said.

We have launched these cars keeping in mind affordability and the need for personal mobility. We have the right strategy. While I agree, the number of people looking for a car will be less, with cities opening up, the need for personal mobility will go up,” he said.

Meanwhile, to lure buyers, Skoda, like its peers, has launched a slew of attractive finance schemes. For the Rapid 1.0 TSI, it is offering 100 per cent finance on the ex-showroom prices of its vehicles at a special rate of interest of 8.99 per cent under the

‘Buy Now, Pay in Diwali’ scheme, a six month EMI holiday programme.

It’s also providing a range of innovative leasing solutions for up to five years across its product portfolio to retail and corporate customers across segments: Salaried individuals, working professionals, small and medium business enterprises, corporate entities and public sector units or undertakings.

Skoda has also introduced ‘EasyBuy’, an assured 57 per cent buyback value programme across the new Superb model range: Laurin & Klement as well as the Sportline.

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