Skoda wants to supplement its traditional passenger car line-up with a fleet of autonomous-capable vehicles that will be offered on a subscription basis.
The vehicles will be the core of a new ‘function on demand’ model created by parent company Volkswagen Group and will future-proof the company, CEO Klaus Zellmer told Autocar, suggesting: “This business potential will be huge. We don’t want to miss that train.”
As such, these cars are not likely to be marketed for individual sale, Zellmer added, as it would be too far removed from Skoda‘s current entry-level price point – a base Skoda Fabia costing £21,125 for example.
“Those cars that [will be] able to offer additional value or additional usage [such as fully autonomous driving] those will typically be in fleets. [This is] because the typical price point of those cars for Skoda customers, that will be a challenge [to market],” added Zellmer.
Instead they will be part of – but likely not exclusive to – a fleet operated under the Europcar brand, which is in the final stage of being bought by a consortium led by Skoda owner VWG for £2.4bn.
The cars in the fleet will be offered on a pay-as-you go basis for a few hours of use; for car-sharing; for ridehailing, which is expected to be the main aim for Skoda’s autonomous cars; or on a monthly subscription basis.
Previously, Christian Dahlheim, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, said: “Autonomous vehicles will be the next game-changer and lift the platform to an even higher level”
The first self-driving car to be part of the scheme, which is tipped by VWG to launch in Europe in 2025, will be an autonomous Volkswagen ID Buzz. Zellmer would not put a timeframe on when Skoda models would join nor confirm in what form these would take, be it specialised autonomous models or adaptations in the same vein as the ID.Buzz.
When they arrive, these autonomous Skodas will join new electric additions to the line-up for the Czech brand, which will include the Elroq city car, a Fabia-priced supermini and a production version of the Vision 7S MPV concept – all of which could also be adapted to be used as part of the wider VWG scheme.
“If you look into society there is a clear trend that you go away from ownership to just [using cars] when you want to,” said Zellmer. “We don’t want to miss that train [as] this business potential will be huge; there is a huge profit pool for us in there.”