Chris Horrell, Product Manager for SkodaAuto UK said at the press launch for the all-new Octavia range "The UK rejection rate of the brand has reduced from 75 per cent of all new car buyers down to below 50 per cent since the year 2000 when we launched the Fabia range". The all-new five-door Octavia range goes on sale in the UK from 19 July.
"Although this rejection rate still sound high we look on this as our cup being half full, not half empty because we still have 50 per cent of the UK new car buying public to sell to. Buyers that still seem to have a problem with the brand are 35 years of age and under and we think that is peer pressure. The people who lived through the tricky times of Skoda in the UK now accept our cars as being well made, reliable, well specified and very competitive for price" said Horrell
He added, "Our research shows that when younger married customers consider buying our cars it is very often the female partner who finally rejects the product. However customer loyalty is 88 per cent and coming second to Lexus in the latest JD Power survey for customer service shows how well we are doing. The new Octavia range is the start of the next phase of our brand development programme to influence people’s perception of the brand in future from being risky to being sensible good value. Although the new Octavia is a bigger car and is on average £350 more than the corresponding current model, the extra equipment each new car has is valued at least at £700"
Although Skoda’s UK new car sales for the first five months of this year are down by 11.5 per cent Horrell expects the year-end total to be in the region of 38,000 units, the same as last year.
Sales in 2005 will be higher say Skoda as the new Octavia range starts to make an impact in the small fleet, business and user-chooser segment where they expect to take 50 per cent of the total 15,000 annual Octavia sales. Diesel models will account for 70 per cent of all Octavia sales in the UK.
The all-new Octavia range of five-door medium segment cars is built on VW’s new Golf platform which has been heavily re-engineered at their Czech Republic Design and Engineering Centre. The new car has more rear legroom and boot space than the Golf and although it is priced to sell alongside lower medium sector cars such as the Astra, Megane and Focus, in size and specification it is an upper C/ lower D segment car selling against Mondeo, Vectra and Primera say Skoda.
At launch the Octavia will be available with 1.4 and 1.6 MPI petrol and 1.9 TDI Pumpe-Duse diesel engines. A 2.0 TDI PD engine will follow in August; a 1.6 FSI direct injection petrol engine in September followed by a 150bhp 2.0 FSI unit in February 2005. There are three trim levels, Classic, Ambiente and Elegance. On the road prices range from £10,750 to £17,420. Insurance ratings start at 4E.
Four-wheel drive estate versions will follow next year and a sports vRS model early the year after. The Octavia Estate will make its European debut at the Paris Motor Show in September this year.
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