LONDON, April 20 — They are two brands from behind the iron curtain which have been the butt of jokes in Western Europe for decades — but today, the future paths of Lada and Skoda couldn’t look more different.
This week it was announced that Lada, the Russian producer of the boxy sedans which have graced European roads for four decades, will end production of the dated models this year.
It will be a sad moment for the legions of comedians used to joking about the much-ridiculed car’s shoddy construction and notorious reliability, and while a decade ago they could have switched to Skoda, that’s no longer the case.
The Czech brand, now owned by Volkswagen, has gone from strength to strength in recent years, with sales jumping from around 210,000 in 1995 to nearly 500,000 in 2005 and over 879,000 in 2011.
Now, with a redesigned brand, a new product lineup and plans to sell 1.5 million cars by 2018, it’s going on the offensive in China, ahead of next week’s Auto China Show in Beijing.
The brand will be at the show with the MissionL design study, a car which it describes as “production-intent” which it first debuted in Frankfurt but is known to be designed with the Chinese market in mind.
Also on display will be the Yeti SUV, set to arrive on Chinese roads next year, along with a new model line also planned to launch in 2013.
All of the new models are part of a huge drive to build Skoda’s following outside of Europe, to ensure it doesn’t suffer a similar fate to Lada, which was internationally marginalised by Western brands after the fall of the Soviet Union.
As it prepares to wow Chinese consumers, Skoda’s outlook appears more positive than ever, with its growth once again dependent on success in a communist country — just not the one it made its name in. — AFP-Relaxnews