It takes a brave man to bet against the tidal wave of SUVs flooding the new car market, and Skoda’s Board Member for Sales and Marketing, Alain Favey, is such a man.
Favey is in Australia for meetings with Skoda Australia management and dealers, and to outline the brand’s plans moving forward.
Alain Favey expects SUV growth to peak soon.
Amongst a number of announcements made at a media call in Sydney this week, Favey said the company would launch a new version of its Octavia sedan and wagon in 2020, despite the current downturn in sales in sedans worldwide.
“We will launch the all new Octavia in 2020,” he confirmed. “It will be new in every aspect, and it’s an extremely good looking car.”
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When Whichcar asked Favey whether a new Octavia was an opportunity for success or a recipe for disaster, he said that the future of the sedan is a lot brighter than it appears.
“This is a very, very interesting question,” he said. “For us, there is no doubt that in the future there will be a demand for cars like the Octavia, irrespective of what’s happening with SUVs and electric vehicles.
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“We don’t have a shadow of a doubt that we need to develop the future generation of Octavia, just as we need to introduce the Scala as a real contender in the hatchback market.”
Sales of SUVs are booming in Australia and around the world, and Favey acknowledged that betting against high-riding wagons looks like a rookie move.
“If you look at the trend of SUVs going up and up and up, you think and believe that this trend will continue to go up from 40 per cent of the market to 100 per cent and even beyond, it seems!” he smiled.
“But we are seeing the first signs that this is not necessarily the way it will keep happening. The first sign is the Chinese market, where the trend for SUVs has been overwhelming for the last few years, and you now have the same incredible trend in Australia.
“But this year, where everyone was expecting a continuation of this trend, this year the trend has stopped, and the Chinese SUV market is no longer growing. There’s actually a growing demand in China now for notchbacks, or sedans.”
Favey pointed out that the SUV growth trend is the same around the world, and that Skoda is furiously working on new crossover vehicles for its showrooms.
“I don’t believe that SUVs will overwhelm the market. There will always be a demand for other types of cars, otherwise we would not develop them. And we believe in the future like cars like the Octavia and Scala.”
Skoda Australia sells more than 20 per cent of its Octavia range as wagons, and Favey was also bullish about their future.
“The wagon market is under pressure worldwide, but there is still a demand for them,” he said. “The offer is quite small, too, so we are in a good position to get a bigger part of the cake.”