Czech automobile major Skoda plans to launch a premium mid-size sedan car in India by the year-end to turn the heat on long-time segment leader Honda City even more.
The City's over decade-old leadership in the segment is already being challenged by the Volkswagen Vento, Hyundai Verna and the soon to be launched Ford Fiesta.
Skoda's car that is being developed on the same Vento platform and would have both petrol and diesel variants, is expected to make the City's life even tougher.
"Our new entry-level limousine would offer the best value for money in the segment and we are looking at topping the category in sales and leaving everybody behind," said Thomas Kuehl, board member, sales and marketing, Skoda Auto India. "In every premium segment where we are present, the Laura and Superb give better quality, design, driveability and equipment over competitors and our new car would do the same in its segment."
The segment, typically defined by cars that cost R7-11 lakh, is the stepping stone to premium cars in India. After lying dormant for almost four years, it has witnessed severe competition in the last 8 months, since the launch of the VW Vento last year. The growing differential in the price of petrol and diesel and the City's lack of a diesel option is being exploited by competitors.
"This is a brand new car and not a replacement for the Octavia," Kuehl said. "India is also one of the first markets to get the car. It would be first displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September and the launch would happen by the end of this year."