Skoda Australia’s managing director Michael Irmer says the brand won’t reach its ambitious sales target of 12,000 units in 2023.
Mr Irmer told CarExpert that “there is too much of a volume loss in the first six months” which he attributes both to supply shortages and the state of the economy.
“The economy is also going through a rough time at the moment with interest rates… and then the compounding effect of this, the willingness of people to splurge money. I think at the moment everybody’s trying to sort of hold back a little on those things,” he said.
He said the result of this changed consumer behaviour is “not immediately visible in VFACTS”.
Despite VFACTS records showing sales at an all-time high, Mr Irmer attributes the surge in vehicle sales to customers finally taking delivery of their vehicles after long wait times.
He also ruled out aggressive tactics to meet Skoda’s previously specified volume goal for 2023.
“We don’t want to have a plan that’s over-ambitious and flood the market with cars, it’s not a good idea,” he said.
While a firm number on the updated target isn’t set and is “volatile”, Mr Irmer said the number is “not that far off the 10,000 mark”.
The number to beat is 9185, Skoda’s high watermark in Australia which it achieved in 2021.
The brand has been dealing with supply chain shortages over the last 18 months, including a lack of semi-conductor chips.
Skoda ended up removing features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and premium sound systems from various models, and these shortages have continued this year.
Mr Irmer says with the model year change that blind-spot monitoring will return as a standard feature on vehicles where this was the case prior to the chip shortage.
Customers who are interested in features like a premium stereo system may still see delays, however.
In 2022 Skoda sold 6501 vehicles in Australia, down 29.2 per cent YoY as it dealt with supply issues.
In the first five months of this year, however, Skoda has sold 3157 vehicles – a 30.9 per cent increase over the same period in 2022.
The brand launched its Fabia recently in a single top-spec Monte Carlo guise due to tight supply, however it says it will “eventually” introduce a more affordable “mid-grade” variant.
Skoda says it expects stocks to improve of the Kodiaq, its second best-selling model last year which is currently experiencing supply issues in top-spec RS guise.
“It’s not going to be anywhere near as bad as it was, so it will [become] more and more normal and I think by the end of the year we we probably have done most of the things behind us entirely,” said Mr Irmer.
Skoda doesn’t have any new models or changes to its range coming this year but it’s readying an onslaught of new product for 2024.
That includes its first electric vehicle in Australia, the Enyaq, which is expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Skoda has mid-life updates coming for its Kamiq and Scala, while new generations of the Kodiaq and Superb are also due.
The brand recently revealed its Karoq facelift which is expected to be around for a little while before its electric replacement, the Elroq, starts production.