MLADA BOLESLAV, Czech Republic -- Skoda believes it will need to find customers open to paying more for its cars when it rolls out its first electric models, including a full-electric SUV due in 2020.
"Electric vehicles will be more expensive than models with normal engines, so we need to find the target group that is ready to pay more for these cars," Skoda sales and marketing head Alain Favey said at the company's annual results conference here in March.
The Czech brand - owned by the Volkswagen Group - plans to launch five electrified cars by 2020 and five full-electric vehicles by 2025, CEO Bernhard Maier said at the conference.
Skoda will spend 2 billion euros on developing electrification and digitalization within the company between now and 2022. That's the largest investment program in the company's history, Maier said.
The flagship electrified car due in 2020 will be a full-electric SUV built on the VW Group's new MEB modular EV platform at Skoda's Mlada Boleslav plant. The car will be positioned between the Kodiaq midsize SUV and Karoq compact SUV and come with a 500 km (311 mile) electric range, Maier said.
Skoda last year posted record profits as sales of its budget cars reached new highs, but Favey believes the brand will need a new strategy to sell electric and electrified cars. "It's not a matter of getting the lowest price possible, it's a matter of making the cars so attractive with a content that's so compelling that people will pay more," he said.
Next year Skoda will launch a full-electric version of the Citigo minicar. The Citigo E will have a range of 300 km (186 miles). The car, based on the VW e-UP, will help Skoda meet tougher European Union CO2 emissions limits that start to take effect in 2020, a Skoda spokesman said.
Also in 2019, Skoda will start to sell a plug-in hybrid version of its Superb. The midsize car will likely use a 1.4-liter gasoline engine linked to an electric motor.
Skoda has also developed a hybrid technology that uses an electric rear axle that could go into production if other VW Group brands decide to share it, Maier said. This powertrain was showcased by Skoda's Vision X small SUV concept seen at in Geneva auto show in March. The production version of that car could be one of the first vehicles to use it, Maier said.
The electric SUV due in 2020 was previewed by the Vision E concept revealed at the 2017 Shanghai auto show. The production version of the SUV will be closely related to VW's I.D. range of electric cars. Skoda's decision to build the car at its own factory deviates from VW Group's strategy to build MEB-based cars at VW brand's Zwickau, Germany, plant, which will make electric versions for Seat and Audi as well. Along with the electric SUV, the Mlada Boleslav plant will also make electric motors and parts for plug-in hybrid models.