MLADA BOLESLAV, Czech Republic -- Skoda will produce a version of its Roomster concept vehicle in 2006 as the first variant of a new-generation Fabia platform, suppliers say.
Skoda will follow with new Fabia hatchback and station wagon variants in 2007, but it will not replace the slow-selling Fabia three-box sedan, partsmakers confirm.
Skoda says it has not yet decided whether to market the Roomster as a Fabia model or as a separate line.
The Roomster will be built at Skoda's factory in Kvasiny, Czech Republic. Kvasiny, the smallest of Skoda's three Czech plants, produces the low-volume Superb and the Fabia sedan.
The hatchback and station wagon variants that arrive in 2007 will be assembled at Skoda's main plant in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic.
Suppliers to the Fabia program say they are still negotiating terms with Skoda and do not yet have final contracts.
The Roomster will share many components with other next-generation variations of parent Volkswagen group's AO platform, which is the basis for the VW Polo and Seat Ibiza.
But the Roomster will also use some components from other VW pro-ducts, including the Skoda Octavia.
Skoda launched its Fabia lineup in late 1999 with the hatchback. This was followed in 2000 with the station wagon and in 2001 with the sedan.
The Roomster is likely to compete with the Opel Meriva and other high-roof small minivans. Skoda sees the Roomster as a halo vehicle to enhance the brand's image, since Skoda will not get a version of the Brazilian-built VW Fox.
Francois Ruppli, head of Skoda sales in France, said Skoda's pri-mary brand value is space, not just being inexpensive.
"Our dealers want a minivan -- and they will get it," he said.
Skoda has been enthusiastic about the Roomster concept vehicle since it debuted at the 2003 IAA in Frankfurt. The concept was about 250mm longer and 220mm higher than the current Fabia.