27 Jan 2019 | 03.16 pm
Interview: John Donegan, ŠKODA Ireland
Compact Scala will have an impact in 2019
27 Jan 2019 | 03.16 pm
ŠKODA is facing into 2019 with a strong order bank. On the way is the Scala, a new compact model that John Donegan, brand director at ŠKODA Ireland, expects will be a game-changer in its segment
ŠKODA improved its market share through 2018. What factors are behind this?
Brexit and sterling values pose big threats to the industry but ŠKODA has remained strong, based on our extensive range, strong dealer network and competitive offers. We are even more optimistic for 2019 based on our order bank to date, and also due to the increased supply of our new Kodiaq and Karoq SUVs.
What was ŠKODA’s bestselling model in 2018?
The Octavia, which has always been the heart and soul of ŠKODA in Ireland. It embodies all the brand’s strengths such as interior space, practicality, design quality, simply clever features and above all, value for money.
What’s your favourite ŠKODA model?
The Karoq offers exceptional space and functionality, with the ŠKODA design language clear to see. From its aggressive stance and off-road character to its LED lighting, use of high-quality materials and precise workmanship, the Karoq makes a great first impression. The optional Vario-Flex seats, that can be folded or completely removed, allow for the boot capacity to be increased to a cavernous 1,810 litres if required.
What model is ŠKODA’s best family buy?
The Kodiaq is ŠKODA’s largest SUV and the brand’s first car with seven seats. It delivers on ŠKODA’s usual qualities of practicality and thoughtful design, as well as innovative connectivity solutions. In the depths of winter, when you need all-wheel drive, a simple switch of a button will engage four-wheel mode.
All the relevant systems — engine management, assistance systems, electronic chassis systems such as ABS and ESC, and suspension adjust automatically through unfavourable conditions. Recently we have overcome supply issues, so that Kodiaq is available for almost immediate delivery from ŠKODA dealers.
What executive model do you recommend?
The Superb L&K has the perfect balance of value for money, performance, spaciousness and practicality. I would challenge any business buyer to find a car with as much rear interior space combined with luggage capacity. In addition, the Superb L&K has an unrivalled level of standard specifications, such as Bi-Xenon headlights, electrically operated and heated leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and our large screen Columbus SatNav system.
In recent times we have seen a considerable number of customers switching from premium brands to our higher specified Superb models like the L&K, and we expect this to continue in 2019.
What new models are on the way from ŠKODA in 2019?
Our new compact model, the Scala, will be a game-changer for us in this segment. Based on feedback and public reaction to the Vision RS concept, this design language will suit the Irish palate perfectly. We see no reason why we can’t challenge the established models in this segment such as the Ford Focus, Toyota Auris, Renault Megane and Opel Astra.
Where is SKODA heading with electric vehicles?
Demand for EVs is still very small due to the limited range the cars on the market currently have. We plan to launch our first electric car in 2020 with a minimum range of 400km. Ireland does not have the infrastructure for an all-electric market, but we hope by the time we launch our first electric car this will have improved greatly.
What’s your view on car buyer sentiment?
There is uncertainty out there due to Brexit, but so far all the indicators for 2019 are positive. Our order bank is up, and our web traffic has increased, so we are hopeful that 2019 will yet again be a successful year for the ŠKODA brand.