The Volkswagen Group board is set to give the go-ahead for an estimated €1 billion (approximately Rs 8,000 crore) investment by its Czech subsidiary, Skoda Auto, to revive its operations in the Indian market. Autocar India had first reported Skoda’s plans to take the lead in developing products for the VW Group, for India and emerging markets. An official announcement is expected to be made later this month, which will officially put Skoda in charge of the VW Group’s India operations.
As a first step, Skoda is likely to take over VW’s Chakan plant, which will be the production base for a slew of future high-volume models Skoda plans to develop. However, according to company sources, the transfer of the Chakan plant from Volkswagen to Skoda could face hurdles due to certain taxation and legal issues that would first have to be resolved.
A large part of the proposed investment would be used for retooling the Chakan plant and building a new production line in Shendra, Chakan to manufacture cars built on the MQB platform, the current global architecture that underpins almost all small and mid-size VW Group cars. A new engine plant – to manufacture MPI and TSI derivatives of the EA211 petrol engine family – is also likely to be a part of the fresh investment.
The MQB production line will be built in parallel to the existing line that will continue to produce cars built on the older PQ25 platform, such as the Skoda Rapid, Volkswagen Vento, Ameo and Polo. However, the older model range will eventually be phased out by around 2020 and be replaced by a fresh model line-up, built on the MQB platform, which will include – for the first time – a mid-size SUV, followed by a sedan and a hatchback for each of the respective brands.
The first model for both, VW and Skoda, will be a mid-size SUV that’ll rival the Hyundai Creta. Speaking exclusively to Autocar India on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show, Oliver Stefani, Skoda’s head of design, hinted that the SUV could borrow design cues from the Vision X concept, a compact SUV positioned below the Kodiaq and Karoq. “What we are looking at is a car that will draw inspiration from the Vision X, but, after my recent visit to India, I have realised we would need to offer more space in the rear”, said Stefani.