The new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Škoda Auto, Thomas Schäfer, intends to pay special attention to the electrification and digitization of the company’s products. According to him, this is the key to keeping the carmaker attractive to customers, and he wants the company’s products to meet customers’ wishes. Schäfer stated this in his first letter to employees.
“In the near future, the car will be electric and fully connected to its surroundings. That is why I intend to pay special attention to the further electrification and digitization of our products. They are the key to keeping the carmaker attractive to its customers, ”said Schäfer.
According to him, the carmaker will show its idea on the Enyaq iV model. This is the first SUV with a purely electric drive, it will be presented on September 1 in Prague. From the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2022, 30 new models, modernizations or variants of the brand’s models are to be introduced.
“It is important for me that everything we do is based on the wishes of our customers. For their money, we always have to offer them a little more and pleasantly surprise them. This, together with the excellent team and product quality, is characteristic of our brand and will continue to be so in the future, ”added Schäfer.
In the letter, he did not forget to mention the current situation where the world economy is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “Together we are starting a new chapter and taking further steps in the transformation process,” he wrote. According to him, “it will definitely not be a walk in the rose garden”.
Fifty-year-old Thomas Schäfer became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Škoda Auto on Monday, August 3, having previously served as CEO of the Volkswagen Group’s South African office, which also covers the entire sub-Saharan African region. He replaced Bernhard Maier, who resigned after less than five years.
According to the chairman of the works council, Jaroslav Povšík, it is not yet clear where Schäfer will direct the carmaker. “It’s a so-called rabbit pulled out of my hat, which I’ve practically never heard of. It comes from South Africa, within the brand it is called a larger workshop, it is something smaller than Kvasiny, “said Povšík. “I talked to him a month ago, I asked him number one, whether it was coming to dampen Škoda or develop it. And he said, “I always play for the team where I’m the captain,” he continued.
In recent days, Volkswagen director Herbert Diess told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Skoda was “not aggressive enough” to compete with Koreans and French in terms of the volume of cars sold. According to him, the carmaker must strengthen its position in the segment of cost-effective cars. Therefore, there are fears that Schäfer is coming to brake and dampen the Škoda.
Škoda Auto’s operating profit fell by almost three quarters to 228 million euros (roughly six billion crowns) from 824 million euros a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. Škoda Auto’s revenues in the first half of the year fell by more than a quarter to 7.5 billion euros (196.5 billion crowns) from 10.2 billion euros a year ago. The company expects a gradual market recovery in the third quarter. He considers it possible that he will return to last year’s level in the fourth quarter.
Last year, Škoda Auto delivered 1.24 million cars worldwide. It operates three production plants in the Czech Republic, produces in China, Russia, Slovakia and India, mostly through group partnerships, as well as in Ukraine and Kazakhstan in cooperation with local partners. It is active in more than 100 markets. It employs almost 39,000 people, of which almost 34,000 in the Czech Republic.