FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group's Czech unit Skoda, commissioned by the automaker to explore an entry-level car platform with a focus on India, could start selling low-cost vehicles in the country in 2021, CEO Bernhard Maier told a German business paper.
Skoda has been assessing whether VW's MQB A0 platform could form the basis for a low-cost vehicle since talks with India's Tata Motors collapsed in August last year.
"We could start selling cars in India based on our new platform in early 2021," Maier told Handelsblatt in an interview, adding the new cars should be produced locally.
"In a first step, we are planning a production of more than 300,000 cars per year," Maier said, adding Skoda would share the platform with the Volkswagen brand.
India is expected to become the world's third-largest car market by 2020 after China and the U.S., but passenger vehicle sales have slowed recently due to policy changes and a new nationwide sales tax.
Skoda has been operating in India since 2001 and currently sells the Superb, Octavia, Rapid and Kodiaq models in the country. Last year, the brand's vehicle sales in India jumped 30 percent to 17,438.
Maier also said Skoda would invest 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in electric mobility and digitalization over the next five years, adding the division would have ten electrified models by 2025.
Currently, Skoda produces about 1.2 million cars a year at 15 sites, a number Maier said could rise to 2 million by the middle of next decade. The CEO said Skoda planned to double vehicle sales in China to 600,000 by 2020.