Service quality and high maintenance costs have for long been a prickly issue for Skoda customers in India. The Czech carmaker understands that well and has made improvementof customer experience its top priority, Gurpratap Boparai, MD, Skoda Auto India and designate head of VW Group India told Autocar India in an interview.
"In the intervening time, till the new products come (as part of India 2.0 project), service is top priority for us. A lot of work has already happened in the recent months and also the last couple of years but we are not where we need to be even on the ground. But we are getting there," Boparai said.
He said not just Skoda but the VW Group is putting a lot more focus on "after sales and on helping the brands' address technical issues in the field more quickly." The carmaker has accelerated some of its after-sales processes and warranty procedures and is looking at how effectively it can address complaints that dealersare unable to resolve.
Interestingly, in our exclusive spare parts survey published in the November issue of Autocar India, we did note progress in Skoda’s efforts at lowering ownership costs. The Rapid was found to have a spare parts price basket cheaper by about Rs 10,000, compared to our survey in 2016. In fact, the front bumper and the tail-light assembly of the Rapid are now the cheapest among cars in the mid-size sedan segment. We also found that from our last study, the Volkswagen Vento showed a reduction of about Rs 20,000 in its basket price.
The Skoda Superb's overall spare parts prices have also seen a drop of over Rs 96,000 with the sedan topping its segment, which comprises of Accord Hybrid, VW Passat and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
"I think some of our users are already seeing the service bills coming down, even for the regular service," Boparai said adding that "work has already started to localise our parts and components and on an average we brought down our cost of ownership by 10-12 percent. For some models, the cost has reduced by as much as 25 percent."
Although this initial decline in cost of spares is a commendable start, the carmaker still has some way to go before it completely turns around its poor reputation for aftersales service. Besides, the Octavia and Kodiaq still continue to have the priciest spares in their respective segments. Despite most of Skoda and VW cars offering a strong engine, good interiors and sturdy build quality, weak aftersales has kept many buyers away.