Skoda Australia says it’s prioritising the more highly specified vehicles its buyers prefer.
The company’s managing director, Michael Irmer, told CarExpert it’s trying to get more supply of the range-topping Kodiaq RS because it accounts for 40-50 per cent of sales of that model line.
“There are other products and other brands which are for bargain hunters perfectly fine, but I think you need to decide what you stand for sometimes. You can’t be everything to everybody. Then you become nothing,” said Mr Irmer.
He said this changing strategy has been an evolution for the brand, and it didn’t just flip the switch overnight.
“This goes back to 2015, we analysed what is our most sold variant and we were actually surprised, we didn’t realise ourselves: the Octavia RS wagon with the packs was the most sold Skoda in Australia,” said Mr Irmer.
“When we launched [the current] Superb, we said let’s not drag it down with a bare-bones base with cloth seats, small wheels, that kind of thing. So we just make it a nice thing only.
“What we learned was it worked a treat, the entry went up $8000 on the previous entry, but the previous entry nobody was interested. It went also over and above Passat.
“One year before the end of the lifecycle, in the second last year, we do two-thirds to three-quarters 206TSIs. And the 206TSI has the packs standard, we don’t bother offering them as an option because everybody buys them anyway.”
With the latest Fabia, Skoda Australia controversially decided to launch it only in top-spec guise.
It arrived last year in a single Monte Carlo trim for $37,990 drive-away – a whopping $16,000 more than the entry price of the previous-generation model.
“When we launched the Fabia, it made us more brave. We said, with Fabia in this generation there were also shortages and we knew the factory wouldn’t have enough output and they had to basically limit the number of Fabia we would be getting, which was roughly 600 volume,” he said.
“Let’s do only the Monte Carlos, the big model with everything on it, in this segment which is the most price-sensitive.
“Well I think we got some very interesting headlines after this launch… not always nice to read.
“And we weren’t 100 per cent sure it would work, but it worked.”
Mr Irmer says the company is selling every Fabia it can get and has never included it in a campaign. Less than half of its dealers have a Fabia in stock to sell to customers.
“Eventually the Fabia will get a lower grade, but we probably won’t go to the entry entry, we’ll probably go to the mid-grade and see how that pans out,” he said.
Mr Irmer says it’s a far cry from, for example, the strategy it employed with the previous-generation Octavia.
It launched that model in 2013 with a base price of $22,990 drive-away, for a model with a manual transmission, cloth seats, wheel covers, and no cruise control or armrest.