The newly elected Chairman of the Board of Directors will replace Bernhard Maier, who ends up at the helm of the company after less than five years. Fifty-year-old Schäfer joined the top management of Volkswagen in 2012. Since 2015, he has been the CEO of the South African representation, covering the entire sub-Saharan African region.
“The question is whether he will dig for a Škoda. So far, according to him, that he will dig for the team of which he is the captain, then it would be very good. I would expect a positive rather than a negative development from this, “thinks Vratislav Kulhánek, who was the chairman of the carmaker’s board from 1997 to 2004.
The chairman of the KOVO Škoda Auto trade unions, Jaroslav Povšík, has previously said that Schäfer is a rabbit pulled out of his hat. According to him, it is not yet clear where he will direct the carmaker, but the key position is the entire group. “I have expectations from the group that the group must function as a whole. And if it works well, so will Škoda, “said Povšík.
Each brand has its own flagship, says Kulhánek
Volkswagen director Herbert Diess recently told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Skoda “is not aggressive enough” to compete with Koreans and French in terms of volume of cars sold. According to him, the carmaker must strengthen its position in the segment of cost-effective cars. Analysts therefore expect the new boss to change towards cheaper car classes.
“I really don’t like the wording ‘cheap cars.’ Skoda will never be a cheap car. Skoda will be a car that should match the prices of competing cars in its class. And if we talk about Korean cars, then it’s not bad quality, it’s not bad cars. When we talk about Renault or Peugeot, but we can also talk about Ford, these are all brands that Škoda has to compete with, “believes Kulhánek.
“Every brand should have its own flagship. And that flagship will be the Superb. Like flagships, they have the brands we’re talking about that Skoda should compete with. So Suberb and, in my opinion, Kodiaq should stay in Škoda in any case, “added Kulhánek.
Povšík warns against moving the production of important models outside the Czech Republic. It also threatens to stop production, even if, according to him, this is the last resort. “If it affected our employment, the margins we have from those cars, we would be hit by wages and bonuses, and we would deal with that,” he said.
He also rejects the claim that different models compete within the group. “I do not think we are in competition. We complement each other, “he says. “Those cars didn’t fall from the sky. Superb approved. And it was done here because we were relatively cheap, advantageous, highly flexible, “he added.
If the economy works, new cars will be bought
The events and comments also focused on the impact of the crisis caused by the new coronavirus pandemic on the automotive industry. The editor-in-chief of the Autoweek.cz website, Vladimír Rybecký, emphasized that the domestic automotive industry depends on what the entire economic situation will look like.
“The automotive industry is not in a vacuum. It all depends on how strong the customers will be, how willing and able they will be to shop. I would just like to remind you that at least two thirds of new car buyers are companies, those cars are bought as company cars. This means that if the economy works, new cars will also be bought, “Rybecký concluded.