Skoda sold only locally made cars after launching production in 2007. The auto maker this spring began importing two vehicles from Czech Republic to China, where it has identified a market segment that favors imported cars.
Shanghai Volkswagen officials flank 1 millionth China-built Skoda.
VIENNA – ShanghaiAutomotive, the joint venture between Volkswagen Group and Chinese auto maker , manufactures its 1 millionth Skoda.
The Skoda Octavia in 2007 was the first model of VW’s Czech subsidiary produced in China. The auto maker does not have its own plant in the country, but it uses Shanghaias manufacturer of its cars.
“Making 1 million cars in China within just six years is evidence of our brand’s impressive growth,” Skoda Chairman Winfried Vahland says in a prepared statement.
The milestone car is a Rapid Xin Rui compact sedan, the fourth Skoda model built in China. The auto maker’s Chinese-made portfolio includes the Fabia hatchback as well as Rapid, Octavia and Superb sedans.
Skoda was selling only locally made cars in China after launching production in 2007. The auto maker this spring began importing two vehicles from Czech Republic to China: the Superb, its largest station wagon, and the Yeti cross/utility vehicle.
Skoda says there is a group of customers in China that favors imported cars. The Superb wagon and Yeti are available at selected dealerships, and the Czech auto maker says it is selling well-equipped, higher-priced cars to Chinese buyers.
Volume production of a stretched Yeti begins later this year in China, but imports of the shorter original version will continue.
Skoda will expand its range of China-built products to six models by mid-2014. The sixth car to be made locally will be the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, a second body version of the Rapid to be unveiled in September at the Frankfurt auto show.
The Czech auto maker also is increasing its manufacturing footprint in China. While all Skoda models were produced in Shanghai Volkswagen’s main plant in Anting until 2012, the Rapid is manufactured at a SVW plant that opened in summer 2012 in Yizheng in eastern China.
While the Yeti will be made in Anting, which currently is manufacturing the Fabia, Octavia and Superb, production of new Octavia and Superb versions is to be switched to an all-new SVW facility slated to come on line by 2014 in Ningbo in southern China.
China is Skoda’s largest global market, followed by Germany and Russia. The auto maker sold about 235,700 cars in China last year and 120,200 vehicles in the first six months of 2013.
“We are definitely going for more growth in China, reinforcing our model offensive and expanding our capacities. We intend to raise our sales in China to half a million cars per year,” says Vahland.