Czech car maker Skoda made an ambitious launch on Wednesday with its entry-level sedan Rapid carrying a price tag of between Rs 675 lakh and Rs 9.19 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) to take on segment leaders Honda City and Hyundai Verna. The petrol variant of Rapid is pitched against the City, while the diesel variant will compete directly with Verna.
India is the first market where Rapid has been launched.
The firm is targetting sales of 2,000 units per month. Segment leader Hyundai Verna sells around 4,000 units per month.
The Rapid is based on parent firm Volkswagen’s Vento and will be powered by 1.6 litre petrol and diesel engines. Skoda expects Rapid to sell even more than its small car Fabia.
The model signifies the increasing importance of India in Volkswagen group’s ambition to become the largest automobile manufacturer in the world by 2018.
While manufacturers such as Hyundai have regularly launched small cars as a global first in India, this is only the second instance after the Toyota Etios last year, that a sedan has been launched first in India.
“There was a gap between our compact car Fabia and sedan Laura and Rapid would fill that gap,” said Tarun Jha, marketing head, Skoda Auto India. “Rapid may become our best-selling car in India and could be a game changer for us.”
Skoda is expecting a 50% growth in sales in 2011 to over 30,000 units.
“Growth could be even higher next year as we would have Rapid for the full year,” said Ashutosh Dixit, associate director (sales and after sales), Skoda Auto India. “Demand for the diesel variant would be higher. We believe this segment would grow by 5% this year.”