Czech carmaker Skoda Auto AS is facing a fierce battle against South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. for cost-conscious consumers not only in its home country, but also in its home region. While Skoda is deeply entrenched in Czech Republic as a local carmaker, Hyundai has made the country its home base in Europe since 2008.
This rivalry is exemplified by an auto dealership ran by Jan Cervinka. The dealership used to sell Skoda vehicles, but it has been selling Hyundai units since 2012. "This is a never-ending fight for the customer," Cervinka told Bloomberg.
The Czech battle between Skoda and Hyundai is a big test of the South Korean carmaker’s ability to challenge a well-established local player, as it aims to increase its European market share from the current 3.4 percent to 5 percent later this decade.
It is also a big test for Skoda’s ability to stave off challenges on its home turf.
"It would be a huge loss of face for Skoda if Hyundai beat them in their home market," said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences. He remarked that both Hyundai and Skoda have a similar position and “are fighting increasingly with the same means," including good quality at a reasonable price.
The challenge is right on Skoda’s throat as Hyundai has now become the second largest carmaker in the Czech Republic. Likewise, it is in this country that Hyundai has its largest market share compared to other countries in Europe.
In terms of interior space, the new Skoda Octavia is setting a new bar. Welsch noted that the Octavia offers space that is only found higher classes, as no other competitor in the compact segment can beat Skonda’s offering in several aspects. For instance, the Octavia rules its class in terms of interior length (at 1,782 mm) and boot volume (at 590 liters). Moreover, its passengers enjoy knee room (73 mm) and rear headroom (980 mm) that are the best in the segment. Compared to its predecessor, the newest generation of the Octavia is larger in terms of front head room (plus 8 mm), front elbow width (plus 39 mm) and rear elbow width (26 mm).
Of course, the new Skoda Octavia goes beyond spacious and functional, as it is also visually appealing. The redesign of the new car was done from the ground up, allowing the new Octavia to look timelessly elegant and distinctive as well as dynamic, refined and confident. Welsch remarked that it is quite easy to spot the Octavia, which boasts of lines and gaps that convey both precision and detail.
Overall, the new Octavia is larger than the previous generation in terms of length (plus 90 mm) and width (plus 45 mm). Its wheelbase is also longer than the second-generation Octavia (plus 108 mm), allowing the new car to be more spacious inside.
Up front, new Skoda Octavia offers a confident appearance, as made possible by emphasizing horizontal lines and by the new location of the Skoda logo. On the sides, the new Octavia features more dynamic flanks as defined by its long wheelbase, shorter front overhang and a C pillar pulled backwards. The sides are also marked by a high, sharp tornado line that visually stretches the car while underscoring its coupe-like silhouette. The new Octavia now features the so-called “fin,” an upswept dynamic window line on the rear doors.