PRAGUE -- At the end of August, Skoda’s third CEO in three years took to the stage of the O2 arena here to address the Czech automaker’s persistent dilemma: How to differentiate itself from other VW Group brands and outside competitors without harming a long streak of healthy profit margins.
Klaus Zellmer, the former VW brand sales chief and longtime Porsche executive who took over at Skoda July 1, unveiled a concept previewing a flagship seven-seat electric SUV -- complete with an updated logo -- that will also set a new design course for Skoda.
The blocky and simple "modern-solid” look of the Vision 7S concept will appeal to Skoda’s core target market of adventurous families, without taking buyers from the likes of VW, executives told the audience.
"We are not after VW passenger car customers,” Zellmer told Automotive News Europe at the event. "We want to attract customers that are not within the wider group. This is why we have made the design so different from where we are today.”
Skoda’s success in selling its value-first, Czech-built hatchbacks, station wagons and SUVs across Europe has led to profit margins that have consistently beaten those of the VW brand (see interactive graphic, below). Skoda has also far outperformed VW Group’s Spanish brand, Seat, which sells at a similar price point.