In Part One of this article, we did a quick tour round the recent news for SEAT and Audi. This time, it’s the same treatment for Skoda and Volkswagen.
At the time of writing, Skoda is facing some major production problems. The company announced a few weeks back that it would ‘significantly reduce or halt’ production from October 18th. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Currently, there is only one production line still running, and according to Automotive News Europe, the Czech giant has now “cancelled most of working shifts until the end of the year.” Skoda now estimate that in 2021, they will produce a mind-boggling 250,000 fewer cars than planned. And that’s horrible news for the Czech economy: Skoda directly employs around 35,000 workers, with 180,000 working in the country’s car sector as a whole.
And the reason behind all this? Chiefly, it’s that global semiconductor shortage that’s hitting everything from PlayStations to iPhones… as well as virtually every car maunfacturer. Skoda seems particularly badly affected, with tens of thousands of cars they can’t finish because they don’t have the necessary microchips.
But step back from the current doom and gloom and in the long term, things look rosier. Skoda continues to combine high quality VW Group standards with a more affordable price tag — and there’s always going to be a market for that. Their cars continue to win plaudits from motoring journos and owners alike. Just this week, for example, the evergreen Skoda Fabia won yet another award. This time, it was voted ‘most attractive small car’ by over 14,000 readers of the German trade magazine Auto Motor Und Sport. We agree — it’s a really smart hatchback. You can take a good look round it on the review below.
The Fabia has also been shortlisted for Autobest’s Best Buy Car of Europe in 2022. This isn’t a tiny who-cares-anyway award — the competition represents the opinions of top motoring journalists from 32 countries.
On top of that, there’s the launch of Skoda’s first all-electric SUV, the Enyaq. The first one rolled off the production line on 22nd September and it will be available in the UK late in the year (production line problems permitting). The entry level model comes in at just under £32,000, comparatively affordable for its beefy size. Even better, the Enyaq is also attracting excellent reviews (see What Car’s below).
One thing’s for certain about Volkswagen: their newsfeed is no place for anyone who doesn’t want to hear about electric mobility, sustainability or intelligent/smart/interconnected futures. Out of the 23 news stories Volkswagen have posted since the end of July 2021, only six weren’t directly related to one of those themes. Out of those, only one reported on an ICE car — the Golf R estate.
In case that leaves you in any doubt about how the German giant sees its future, VW Group’s CEO Herbert Diess had this to say at the AGM in July:
“With our NEW AUTO strategy, we will reinvent Volkswagen by 2030… The cars on our roads will be sustainable, safe, smart and ultimately autonomous within the next ten years. Individual mobility has a bright future. With our strong brands and global technology platforms, we have a clear plan to play a leading role in the new world of mobility, too.”
So, there it is: the VW Group aspires to have fully autonomous vehicles within ten years. Blimey. You can’t accuse them of lacking ambition.
Before we get to Volkswagen’s shiny new world, however, there’s the small matter of convincing the public to swap fossil fuels for electrons. We’ve blogged before about the crucial importance of their ID3 and ID4 models in achieving this. So how’s that going?
Pretty well, apparently. With ever-stricter pollution regulations and rising petrol/diesel prices, there’s no shortage of appetite for electric cars. According to Inside EVs, Volkswagen’s global EV sales hit a new record of 75,000 in the third quarter, up 154% from last year. That brings their total EV sales for 2021 to just below 168,000, up 169%.
The bulk of those sales were made up from the ID3 (52,700) and ID4 (72,700) with the e-Up also contributing a fair chunk. Just for a reality-check, however, the entire VW Group’s global electric sales have hovered between just 32% and 60% of Tesla’s. And arguably, Tesla is scaling up faster.
In the bigger picture, Volkswagen had a great first half to 2021. After the ravages of 2020, which saw losses of 1.5 billion euros, they’re back in profit again. They delivered 2.2 million vehicles worldwide — which again shows how far their EV operations have to go. They’re going to need that early success to weather the semiconductor shortage, which has seen Wolfsburg substantially cut production. VW expect the problems to ease in 2022.
Rounding Up the Round-Up
Every car manufacturer is facing a tough few months, as global supply issues rumble on. However, even allowing for the positive press-room spin, the VW Group does seem well placed for 2022 and beyond. The group put all its eggs in the electric vehicle basket, banking on the big switch coming sooner than later. So far, that seems to have been the smart move, as EV sales soar faster than anyone anticipated. As a side note, it makes us wonder what the future holds for VW’s arch-rival Toyota, who don’t seem to realise EVs are now a thing. Maybe we should write a blog post on it!
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