Skoda will launch a full-electric version of its Citigo minicar after its push into the hot-selling SUV market put the automaker at risk of fines for missing EU CO2 emissions reduction targets.
The Citigo EV will launch by the end of next year and will be based on the VW e-Up, a battery-powered version of the Up minicar. It will help Skoda fulfill tougher European Union CO2 emissions limits that come into effect in 2020, a Skoda spokesman told Automotive News Europe.
Skoda plans to launch five full-electric cars by 2025 as part of parent Volkswagen Group's plans to introduce 80 new full-electric vehicles across the 12-brand group by the middle of the next decade.
The Citigo EV will have a range of 300 km (186 miles) and will be called Citigo E, Alain Favey, Skoda's sales and marketing chief, told Auto Express magazine in Geneva.
After the Citigo EV, future Skoda battery-powered cars will use VW Group's MEB platform that will also underpin VW brand's I.D. electric-car family.
Skoda's expansion into popular SUV segments with the Kodiaq and Karoq has driven up the brand's CO2 emissions. SUVs are usually heavier and less fuel efficient than cars. Last year SUVs accounted for 14.6 percent of Skoda's total European sales, up from 9.1 percent in 2016, according to ANE calculations based on JATO sales data.
Sales of the Kodiaq large SUV rose to 53,349 from just 671 units in 2016, its first year on the market. Skoda sold 5,982 units of the Karoq compact SUV last year after it launched in the second half.
Skoda previewed an upcoming small SUV with the Vision X unveiled at the Geneva auto show on March 6.
Last year CO2 emissions from Skoda's new-vehicle fleet in Europe increased by 4.1 grams per km to 115.9 g/km in compared with 2016, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics, making the company the worst CO2 performer among the 20 best-selling brands in 23 European countries. Automakers selling cars in the EU must reach a fleet average of 95 g/km by 2021.
The Vision X also debuted a hybrid drivetrain with a 1.5-liter engine powered by CNG (compressed natural gas) and an electric motor driving the rear axle. The drivetrain's CO2 emissions are 89 g/km and it can propel the car for up to 2 km on electric power alone.
Skoda is betting on CNG drivetrains to help reduce its fleet CO2 emissions. A production version of the Vision X, due next year, will have a CNG version, Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier said at the Geneva show.
Currently CNG models make up just less than 3 percent of Skoda's European sales, Maier said, because few countries offer a widespread network of CNG refueling stations. CNG cars are relatively popular in Italy, where they had a 1.6 percent share of the total market in 2017, down from 2.4 percent in 2016.
The production Vision X concept will be the first Skoda to offer a 48-volt mild hybrid system to help improve fuel economy and so cut CO2 emissions.