Skoda grabs more parts business

Volkswagen's low-cost subsidiary expands to seize opportunities

Frankfurt. Skoda will expand its car lineup from three to five models and plans to accelerate the production of vehicle components for its parent company.

According to management sources, Volkswagen's Czech subsidiary is planning to hire about 1,500 employees in assembly operations by the end of 2006.

In addition, "quite a number of additional engineers" are being sought, Skoda chief Detlef Wittig said in an interview.

Management has approved the manufacture of a compact SUV along the lines of the Yeti concept vehicle.

"We are definitely planning to deliver that vehicle," he said.

After an analysis of its target customer base, Skoda will give it all-wheel drive. Regular production of the Yeti could begin in early 2009.

Roomster planned next year

The production of a new Skoda van, the Roomster, will begin early next year. After its introduction at the Geneva auto show next March, the first units should reach customers during the summer.

With VW brand chief Wolfgang Bernhard looking for savings potential at parts factories, Skoda is taking steps to broaden the scope of its manufacturing.

"We are well-positioned on the cost side," said Horst Muehl, Skoda production chief.

As a result, Skoda will expand assembly operations for the MQ 200 transmission, and production will be cut back at Seat's factory in Prat, Spain, and at the VW factory at Kassel, Germany.

Skoda management is moving quickly to examine "industrial commitments in the Russian and Iranian growth markets," Wittig said, perhaps in the form of company-owned car assembly plant.

Skoda plans to enter the Australian market in 2006.

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