Czech carmaker Skoda is making plans to go EV, with five electrified models on the way – two all-electric vehicles and three PHEVs – as well as a new partnership inked with Israeli charging tech startup Chakratec.
All five hybrid and electric cars will be launched onto the global market by 2020, the carmaker says, starting with the plug-in hybrid Superb large sedan (that will have a range of 70km on pure electric driving) in 2019.
This will be followed by the Skoda e-Citigo with 300km range and based on the compact Volkswagen e-up!, which is to be the carmaker’s first all-electric vehicle and is to be launched in Europe, also in 2019.
Skoda’s second and “main” all-electric vehicle will be the production version of the concept Vision E that it unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2017, and it is expected to be launched by 2021.
Two more PHEVs are included in the line-up, which are reported to be electrified versions of the Skoda Octavia and Kodiaq.
The planned models form part of parent company Volkswagen’s “electric offensive“, and Skoda’s previous promise to bring 10 electrified vehicles by 2025.
But with Australia’s market way behind the eight ball, Skoda says it may skip bringing PHEVs to market here altogether and go straight to EVs.
Speaking at a media event late last month, Skoda Australia director Michael Irmer said in regards to bringing the Superb PHEV here, “[With] the number of cars sold in Australia [there’s] not much potential.”
Australia has been called a “global laggard” by industry expert and CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council Behyad Jafari, with a distinct lack of policy and targets, and it is holding some carmakers back from introducing electric vehicles into what they feel is an uncertain market.
“If potential was there, I have no doubt we would bring the [Superb PHEV] to Australia,” said Irmer.
But Skoda Australia planning and product manager Kieran Merrigan thinks the market for PHEVs for the minor brand is too small.
Asked whether Skoda might simply skip straight to all-electric models, Irmer said, “Perhaps yes,” adding that with Australia’s love of SUVs, an all-electric SUV might be a better fit.
“Australians love SUVs and Australians love performance, so when an electric car will come with an appearance of an SUV, as a performance four-wheel drive, I think it will be a great fit for the market.
“We do know that in Australia the electric car movement is not as far as other markets. But I am totally confident that with the love for technology and with the love for the design … that Australians will love it and adopt it as well. This technology will become mainstream.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.