29 October 2007

Please, No Škoda Jokes

The history of the Škoda goes back to 1895 when they produced motorcycles & they were making cars by 1905. In 1925, it became part of the the biggest industrial enterprise in the land, Škoda Works. Thereafter it's cars bore that name. After world war 2, Škoda came under state control. They were sold in NZ & had a poor reputation but were cheap to buy. VW starting investing in Škoda and increasing their stake until eventually taking full ownership in 2000. Volkswagen has invested heavily in the company and it shows. In 2006, 550000 Škodas were made and while efforts have been made to sell to many markets, they remain heavily dependant on Europe. Individual models are listed below with 2006 manufacturing figures:

Octavia: 270000 manufactured. Made since 2004, it has good engineering and quality in a value package. It is roomy with a huge boot, economical to run, keen handling and an excellent ride. A drawback is that styling is conservative. This is in effect a lower price VW Golf with more room. The Octavia is a good car.

Fabia: 240000 produced The new 2007 model is a roomy, quality product, with a stylish appearance. It is a good fun to drive and a practical car with character. the Škoda Fabia is a great all round package with few niggles. If it didn't have a Škoda badge, you would think it was a VW.

Roomster: 25000 made and set to grow markedly. It hit the market in 2006 with a roomy, quirky yet likeable look. With versatile seating, good build quality, quiet, comfortable and even fun to drive. As with Škodas, good value too. You get the impression this sort of vehicle is a car of the future, very useful, highly individual-looking and great to live with.

Superb: 20000 made. Produced since 2002, it has more space than a Passat. It combines fit & finish, some clever design features and for the Scottish market, very good value. Those wanting a real quality car may find comfort and refinement a little disappointing. Buying a VW Passat or an Audi A4 never looked more pointless.

Škoda is going from strength to strength with it’s VW alliance and while efforts have been made to sell to more overseas markets, they remain heavily dependant on Europe. (In NZ for example, about 130 are sold each year from 2003 to 2006, but in 2007, Jan-Sep 140 were sold so an improvement). For Škoda to become truly successful as an international brand it will take much time & effort, as the Kiwi market is proving.

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