Opinion: Tech focus shows Skoda is ready to lead instead of follow
Scala’s debut proves Skoda is more than one of the VW Group’s ‘budget’ brands
Why launch a family hatchback in Tel Aviv?
For Skoda, choosing Israel’s second city as the debut location for the all-new Scala makes a lot of sense: the area is home to more than 6,500 technology startups, placing it second only to Silicon Valley as the largest global startup scene.
Two of the Scala’s biggest plays to attract a younger, more connected audience are its new technology and an upgraded infotainment system, so it fits right in. But more importantly, all this new-to-the-Volkswagen Group hardware is appearing on a Skoda first.
The Volkswagen Group tends to shuffle which brands get to introduce new metal and platforms in various market segments on a regular basis, but it’s unusual for Skoda to be given first dibs on new technology. Normally Volkswagen would lead the charge itself, but the group’s third-generation infotainment system makes its debut here instead.
The Scala is also the first with wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay (admittedly as an option rather than as standard), which means no more having to remember to pack a cable if you want to connect your phone to your car. It will be always-connected, too, so you’ll be able to remotely lock the doors or check where you parked using your smartphone, before you will on any VW or Seat. Even the humble USB port is dead, as far as the Scala’s cockpit is concerned: it’s the ultra-modern USB-C all the way (don’t worry, adaptors are available).
Letting what was traditionally seen as a budget brand pioneer this kind of equipment is a bold move – but it’s also a smart way to make Skoda appeal to a more mainstream market. After all, the company wants to sell twice as many Scala across Europe as it did the Rapid, and achieving that will mean competing with giants like the Ford Focus and VW’s own Golf. Giving it some standout tech helps it stand out in ways a Simply Clever ice scraper hidden in the fuel filler cap simply can’t.
Right now, Skoda won’t be your first thought as the maker of high-tech interiors, electric powertrains and autonomous cars. But that should change by 2020, when the company is plotting to have nine electric models on sale. A volume seller like the Scala seems as good a place as any to start turning that perception around.
Source: Autocar Online