Volkswagen Group's Skoda unit unveiled its Kodiaq large SUV that could lead the brand’s entry in the U.S. market.
Skoda said in June that it is considering whether to sell cars in the U.S. where VW is mired in a diesel-emissions scandal. The brand will decide late next year on U.S. sales with the Kodiaq as a key product in any U.S. lineup, German press reports have said.
Skoda is examining the market potential of regions where the brand is currently not represented, including North America, a spokesperson told Automotive News Europe on Friday.
The Kodiaq is the Czech brand’s first large SUV and its first model to offer a seven-seat option. It is named after the Alaskan Kodiak bear. "With the Kodiaq, we are striking out in a new direction and opening up new markets," Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier said in a statement.
The SUV has its public debut at the Paris auto show on Sept. 29.
The Kodiaq will go on sale in Europe early next year as a rival to SUVs such as the Ford Edge, Nissan X-Trail and Hyundai Santa Fe. It is built on VW Group’s MQB architecture that underpins a number of models across the group, including the VW Tiguan SUV.
At 4700mm long, the Kodiaq is shorter than the 4800mm Skoda Superb midsize car and 40mm longer than the Octavia compact, the brand's best-selling model. The car's styling most closely resembles the latest-generation Superb, which went on sale last year.
The Kodiaq will be offered with three gasoline and two diesel engines.
Skoda claims the SUV has the largest cargo capacity in its class, with trunk space of 720 liters, rising to 2,065 liters with the rear seats folded down.
The Kodiaq will be the Skoda’s first model to offer an safety system called Area View that uses cameras in the front and rear as well on as the wing mirrors to display views of the area immediately around the car to be displayed on a screen.
The SUV will also be the first Skoda to offer a feature that will automatically help reverse the car with a trailer.
The Kodiaq will be built in Skoda’s plant in Kvasiny in the Czech Republic and will be sold in China as well as Europe.
The Kodiaq was previewed by the Vision S concept at the Geneva auto show earlier this year. The concept was powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that mated a 1.4-liter gasoline engine to an electric motor. Skoda will launch a plug-in hybrid car in 2019 followed by an all-electric model, Maier said at the show, without naming the model.
Skoda, VW Group’s value brand, counts China and central and eastern Europe among its key markets. Its first-half vehicle sales rose by 4.6 percent year-on-year to 569,400 and its operating margin increased to 9.6 percent from 8.1 percent.