DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

New Skoda sedan won't be a Logan fighter

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Although it is aimed at price-sensitive growth markets such as India, China and Russia, Skoda Chairman Winfried Vahland is very clear about the Czech automaker's new compact sedan: It is not a Dacia Logan competitor.

Since Dacia, Renault's Romanian subsidiary, launched the Logan in 2004, the the low-cost sedan has been winning customers who used to turn to the Volkswagen Group subsidiary Skoda for an entry-level model.

Vahland gave no indication that he wants Skoda to compete at that end of the market.

Skoda's new sedan is previewed by the near-production MissionL concept in Frankfurt (a production name has not been given yet).

Vahland said the sedan will be added to the lineup because Skoda wants to have a car that is roughly the same size as the first-generation Octavia – about 4500mm long. This would place the car between the Fabia subcompact (about 4000mm) and the current-generation Octavia compact (about 4570mm).

Vahland said the sedan's cost will fall between the Fabia's 10,730-euro base price and the Octavia's 15,390-euro starting price.

The executive added that the sedan not only will be sold in China, India, Europe and Russia, it also will be built in each market and will feature specific modifications in each region.

For instance, Vahland, who was speaking on the sidelines of VW Group's pre-Frankfurt gala on Monday, said that India's version of the sedan would be less than 4500mm long because of the tight driving conditions in the country's major cities.

India also will be the first country to get the car. Vahland said the launch there is planned for later this year. Europe is due to get the car in the second half of 2012 while the sedan's China and Russia debuts will follow.

The sedan will be Skoda's sixth model and is part of the brand's product expansion to nearly double annual global new-car sales to 1.5 million by 2018 from 762,500 last year.

Among other new models planned by Skoda is a variant of VW's new Up minicar. Vahland said he expects Skoda's version of the up to be on its Geneva auto show stand in March 2012.

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