Škoda Auto’s new chairman, Thomas Schäfer, wants to focus on the electrification and digitization of the company’s vehicles. He says its the key to remaining competitive, and he wants the company’s products to meet customers’ wishes. Schäfer stated this in his first letter to employees.
“In the near future, cars will be electric and fully connected to their surroundings. That is why I intend to pay special attention to further electrification and digitization of our products. They are the key to keeping the car attractive to its customers,” said Schäfer.
According to him, the carmaker will show its idea on the Enyaq iV model. This is the first SUV with a purely electric drive. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2022, 30 new models, modernizations, or variants of the brand’s models will be introduced.
“It is crucial for me that everything we do is based on the wishes of our customers. We always have to offer them a little more for their money and pleasantly surprise them. This is what is characteristic of our brand, together with the excellent team and product quality, and it will be as well as in the future, “Schäfer added.
In the letter, he also mentioned the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “Together, we are starting a new chapter and taking further steps in the transformation process,” he wrote. According to him, “it will not be a walk in the garden.”
Thomas Schäfer became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Škoda Auto on Monday, August 3, having served as CEO of the Volkswagen Group’s South African office, which also covers the entire sub-Saharan African region. He replaced Bernhard Maier, who resigned after less than five years leading the company.
In recent days, Volkswagen director Herbert Diess told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Skoda was “not aggressive enough” to compete with Koreans and French in terms of its volume cars sold. According to him, the carmaker must strengthen its position in the segment of cost-effective vehicles.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Škoda Auto’s operating profit fell by almost three quarters in the first half of the year to 228 million euros from 824 million euros a year ago. Škoda Auto’s revenues in the first half of the year fell by more than a quarter to 7.5 billion euros from 10.2 billion euros a year ago. The company expects a gradual market recovery in the third quarter. He considers it possible that he will return to last year’s level in the fourth quarter.
Škoda Auto delivered 1.24 million cars worldwide in 2019. It operates three production plants in the Czech Republic, and has plants in China, Russia, Slovakia, and India, through group partnerships and Ukraine and Kazakhstan, in cooperation with local partners. The company is active in over 100 markets. It employs almost 39,000 people, of which 34,000 are in the Czech Republic.