The VW Group’s India 2.0 plan is chugging along at pace, despite upcoming potential hurdles like the automotive market's mandatory shift to BS6 emission norms (the German company doesn’t have a great history with emissions – read: Dieselgate). Speaking to Autocar India, Zac Hollis, Director – Sales, Service and Marketing, Skoda Auto India, confirmed that while diesel units will disappear from its portfolio when BS6 norms come into effect, the company will eventually bring back diesel engines in some of its larger models. “Our BS6 engines will be petrol first, with diesel offered going forward. We have some fantastic TSI petrol engines that we will bring and the market is also moving towards petrol.”
Every Skoda car, barring the Rapid midsize sedan, comes with Skoda’s 2.0-litre TDI engine. While the Octavia can make do without a diesel engine option for a while (a key rival – the recently launch Hyundai Elantra facelift – is petrol-only, for now), the Kodiaq is a diesel-only model. “Now is a great time to buy diesel cars, particularly from Skoda, because when it comes to BS6, there will be a period of time that we don’t have a diesel offering in the market,” Hollis said.
For the Superb – the mid-life facelift is expected to launch in February 2020 – lack of a diesel option here may not be as detrimental to Skoda’s sales, “Over 70 percent of Superb sales in India are TSI models,” he said.
For the Kodiaq, and may be even the Superb, Skoda instead will introduce a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine. Hollis commented on this saying, “We will have a very strong petrol engine for the Kodiaq. For someone who thought the 150hp diesel was slightly underpowered, we need to have a strong petrol coming in.”
The current 2.0-litre diesel in the Kodiaq makes 150hp and 340Nm of torque, which is just about adequate for this 1.8-tonne SUV. The incoming 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine – which has already been seen in India being used in the Skoda Octavia RS – is available with the UK-spec Kodiaq in a 190hp/320Nm state of tune – which should liven things up for the seven-seat SUV.
While the Superb facelift is expected to have this turbo-petrol engine send power to the front wheels via a 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic unit, the Kodiaq will have the same engine-gearbox combination coupled with all-wheel drive.
With rising costs thanks to BS6, lack of diesel options, a market under pressure and a limited dealer network, Skoda has before it a very challenging 2020, however Zac remains upbeat on the company's prospects saying, "We will bring niche products, advertise them in an innovative way and to get consumers talking about them and see at least the same volume as 2019. So 2019 will finish at around 15,000 and for 2020 the target is also to sell around 15,000 cars."