The beginning of the Volkswagen Group’s India 3.0 (phase III) project will be with an ICE model, a Skoda sub-4 metre SUV. Then, a Skoda hybrid EV or a Skoda pure EV could be launched in India as part of the third strategic plan, Bernhard Maier, CEO, Skoda, has revealed.
Speaking about the electrification plans for Skoda in India, Maier said (translated): “Initially it will be exclusively cars with an internal combustion engine, in phase 3.0 we will focus on new segments of the market and only then we will offer partially electrified models."
Volkswagen Group is no longer into full-hybrid technology and is focusing only on mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies when it comes to partially electrified models. Plug-in hybrid technology, just like full-hybrid technology, is too expensive for our market. So, expect Skoda to bat on mild-hybrid technology for our market. The company already has a 48V mild-hybrid system ready and is offering it in the all-new Octavia's 1.0-litre TSI EVO and 1.5-litre TSI EVO engines.
The India 3.0 project is expected to begin as early as in 2023, by when pure electric vehicles will likely have started becoming mainstream even in the M1 category. The shift to pure electric four-wheelers is expected to have begun on a serious level by then. Most companies are likely to focus on pure EVs instead of hybrid EVs in our market by then. So, the Volkswagen Group might launch pure EVs directly instead of beginning its electrification with hybrid EVs.
But now it is too early to talk about an approved project. For example, if we already see that demand for electric cars will increase in the third phase of activity development in India, of course we can rethink this plan.
Skoda and VW EVs in India will likely be based on the MEB platform, which was developed from the ground up just for pure electric vehicles. It wouldn’t surprise us if the Volkswagen Group comes out with a low-cost specification of the MEB platform for our market like it did with the MQB platform (MQB A0 => MQB A0 IN). The modifications probably won’t take as long, though. For reference, MQB debuted in 2012*, and then MQB A0, the smallest version of it, followed in 2017**. MQB A0 IN, on the other hand, will be commercialised in 2021***.
*In the Mk3 Audi A3 - March 2012
**In the Mk5 Seat Ibiza - January 2017
***In the Skoda VISION IN concept-derived premium B-SUV - April 2021 (expected)