Skoda Brand Has Changed
Reputation is crucial to any motor manufacturer; the “Badge” can mean the difference between survival and major profits on a worldwide scale. The Skoda brand certainly didn’t fit into the “respected” category; state owned by the Czech government it was the butt of many jokes. “What do you call a Skoda Convertible?” Answer “A skip”.
Ironically at this time, Skoda was enjoying huge success in rally championships across the world, winning in their class many times over, partly because of rear engine designs. But the road versions were prone to rust, badly made and behind with technology compared to the completion. Then as soviet wall came down and many “Eastern Bloc” country governments took over their own affairs, the Skoda brand gradually moved from public ownership in the early 1990’s. Eventually the great might of Volkswagen would take full ownership and what came next was a major transformation rarely seen in this industry.
Skoda Moved Into VW Group Ownership
2001 was the official year that the VW Group took full ownership of Skoda and started what was supposed to be their entry or cheaper brand and not seen as a good idea by many. By now Volkswagen was seen as the standard that everyone else wanted to be and so prices were more expensive than the typical competition, especially French manufactured makes. Skoda could fill that gap, by using many of the important VW components supplemented by cheaper manufacturing and simpler trim and interior. Economies of scale would help the whole group, improving buying power of raw materials and at this time, Skoda was not seen as a badge that would take sales away from Volkswagen only increase them.
New front engines models such as the Fabia were now being designed and even though they did not set the world on fire in the looks department, gradually a respect in the UK started to grow. Using the same engines and transmission as the VW models certainly helped with the image transformation, to the point where now the model spec is almost identical to the VW equivalent. An example is the Skoda Fabia, being almost the same as the VW Polo.
The UK Started To Rely On Skoda
Probably the biggest compliment a brand can have is when those in the driving trade choose to use their models. In this case, the Taxi drivers (private hire) of the UK see some Skoda models as the preferred choice, the Octavia being an example. With regular servicing, these can do 300,000, maybe up to 500,000 miles before meeting that breaker yard in the sky. Of course this demand send prices high and the budget brand no longer seems so down market, VW have recognised this and you could almost say that Skoda was now a competitive brand to Volkswagen, even though still under the same ownership.
Models are mow made over 5 countries, including India, Russia, China, Slovakia and still in what is now called the Czech Republic and is truly a brand in its own right, rather than a “poor man’s VW”. Range is constantly being expanded, from city hatches up to larger SUV’s, that badge that was a joke to anything with 4 wheels has now become a symbol of reliability, style and daresay trust. Would you believe it? Many wouldn’t.