Skoda has announced that it will debut its Fabia light hatch and Yeti compact SUV at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne this July, expanding the European car maker's reach into two rapidly growing segments.
"We will launch Fabia at the Melbourne motor show," revealed Matthew Wiesner, Head of Skoda Australia.
"We will launch with the manual 77kW TSI hatch and will reveal the RS there [as well]. We'll also launch the Monte Carlo version of the Fabia (pictured). It looks like an RS -- some say it looks cooler -- but it shares the same drivetrain as the TSI 77. It's very much a special edition.
"[And] we’ll launch the 4WD and 2WD Yeti in Melbourne too. July will be a very busy month for us," confided Wiesner.
Pricing has not been confirmed for either car, instead being announced at the show. But the Skoda chief said the cost of both new cars would be very competitive. He predicted that the Yeti will be Skoda's highest selling model in 2012, but added that Fabia will be an important model for bringing in younger buyers.
"Fabia will be important because it brings younger guys and girls to our brand, but my view is that Yeti will be our volume product when it gets its first full year of sales in 2012."
From July, Skoda will offer manual variants of the 77kW Fabia and both 2WD and 4WD versions of the Yeti. "We will do two stages of Fabia, as DSG production is later, in the fourth quarter," explained Wiesner, who said that automatic versions of the Fabia won't arrive until late 2011 or early 2012.
The 132kW Fabia RS will also arrive with the second tranche of Fabia in late 2011/early 2012, as will the wagon variant of the compact car.
As Skoda expands into new market segments, it expects its dealer network to grow rapidly, with the current 22 dealerships rising to a predicted 35 by the end of the year. The brand sees itself becoming a rival for well-regarded Asian brands, such as Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia. "We're going to stir it up with our Asian rivals," said Wiesner.
"We made it clear to the network that Skoda's role, globally for that matter, is the entry brand to the VW group. Entry doesn't mean you're a low grade cheapy brand -- entry means our job is to bring those customers that otherwise buy Asian brands into the VW group. This will become more obvious as we move forward especially as we head in to the next generation of products [like Fabia and Yeti].
"Our core set of competitive brands as we see them are Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Subaru. They all do a magnificent job in their own space, and our job is to be the European brand in there amongst them doing exactly that, to create that choice."
It's evident that Skoda is going to have a big year in 2011, and with the arrival of Fabia, Skoda will also reintroduce the Roomster vehicle. "Yes it's a niche product," conceded Wiesner, "but we see an untapped opportunity. We know where it needs to be with Fabia."
A new drivetrain for the Superb large car has also been mooted and the next three years are shaping up to be very busy for the Czech brand. "The next few years is going to be an interesting time for the brand. By the end of 2014, we will be active in 80 to 85 per cent of the Australian new car market," revealed the Skoda boss, hinting at a massive new model onslaught for the burgeoning European brand.
Read the latest Carsales Network news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at carsales' mobile site.