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Interview with Herbert Diess und Bernhard Maier

ŠKODA and Volkswagen launch offensive in India

ŠKODA plays a key role in the Volkswagen Group’s efforts to tap the Indian automotive market. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, and Bernhard Maier, CEO of ŠKODA, explain the “INDIA 2.0” project in an interview.

Mr. Diess and Mr. Maier, what plans does the Volkswagen Group have for India?

Herbert Diess: One-and-a-half years ago, the Group tasked ŠKODA with drawing up a cross-brand plan for a new model offensive for India. The result is now on the table: the “INDIA 2.0” project. It’s a good plan and focuses on the right priorities for enabling a successful future for the VW Passenger Cars and ŠKODA brands in one of the most dynamic growth markets in our industry.

Bernhard Maier: India describes itself in its tourism campaign as “incredible” and that’s definitely not hyperbole. India will be the world’s most populous country in 2050 – around 1.6 billion people will probably live there by then. That’s more than China and the U.S. combined. India is focusing on growth. Experts believe the Indian automotive market will soon be the world’s third largest.

What are the core strategic points defined in “INDIA 2.0”?

Herbert Diess: All models to be developed and made locally in India will be based on the Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB). It already meets the strict statutory requirements that will apply in India from 2020 on. That means: We’ll transfer top-class technology to India and leverage it in our local vehicles and production there. And we’re making substantial investments in this key market.

Bernhard Maier: That includes the fact that the ŠKODA team is developing the MQB A0 platform further with an initial focus on India. Technical development will mainly be carried out in India. One crucial aspect is that ŠKODA and Volkswagen are pursuing the future plan for India in concert. And both brands will benefit from it. The first ŠKODA model based on the MQB A0-IN will be presented as early as 2020. That will be followed by further vehicles from both brands.

Will they also include electric vehicles?

Bernhard Maier: We aim to launch ten electric models by 2025. Our approach is geared to the specific market and we’ll launch new e-models where we can also truly exploit the advantages of e-mobility. That means they must offer short charging times, large ranges and reasonable battery costs. Only then is electromobility “Simply Clever.”

What does that mean for India?

Bernhard Maier: We’ll put our e-cars on the road in India as soon as the market is ready for them and we can offer our customers genuine value added. The issue of infrastructure naturally plays a key part in that.

The “INDIA 2.0” project is integrated in the new assignment of regions to lead brands in the Group. How will this strategy be implemented in India?

Herbert Diess: ŠKODA in India is a good example of how we’re spreading responsibility over more shoulders in the Group. And it’s a sign of the trust the Group Board of Management has in the ŠKODA team. The VW and ŠKODA teams in India have worked with great commitment under tough conditions in the past years. Now we’re igniting the boosters for the next stage. Our specific goal is for Volkswagen and ŠKODA to capture a combined market share of approximately 5 percent in India by 2025.

Bernhard Maier: It’s vital for us to become a relevant player in this growth market. We’re planning to establish a local development center for the localized MQB A0 platform and our vehicles. We’re expanding our production in Aurangabad, sourcing additional components and hiring staff.

Herbert Diess: The Group’s investing over a billion euros in “INDIA 2.0.” We’re going on the offensive in India. And phase 1 of the project has already begun.