PARIS -- Skoda may take another year before deciding whether to sells its cars in the U.S. Volkswagen Group's value brand plans first to enter the South Korean and Iranian markets next year.
"We're evaluating the U.S. market, but we are in no rush. It could be a year from now before we finally make a decision," Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier said as he explained plans to begin exporting cars into Iran. "We're going to start with exporting fully built up cars [to Iran], and evaluate whether it makes sense to expand further by linking up with local partners," he said at a VW Group event on the eve of the auto show here. Skoda is in exploratory talks with potential Iranian partners, he said.
Renault and PSA Group have already signaled interest to bolster their operations in Iran via joint ventures with local carmakers such as Pars Khodro now that economic sanctions are being lifted.
Maier said Skoda couldn't ignore the U.S. in its growth plans because of its size, but he said the market was not an immediate priority in view of the need to invest in megatrends such as digitalization and e-mobility.
Maier was speaking on the sidelines of the auto show here where Skoda is debuting the Kodiaq, its first seven-seat SUV.
As part of VW Group's plans to reduce its dependence on vehicles with internal combustion engines, Skoda aims to sell its first electrified car in 2019 when it rolls out a Superb plug-in hybrid. Maier said shortly after it would bring its first battery electric vehicle onto the market based on VW Group’s modular electric architecture called MEB.
By 2025, the brand wants to offer five electrified vehicles, Maier said.