Bernhard Maier: Shaping the Industry’s Future

Bernhard Maier: Shaping the Industry’s Future

How many new models does ŠKODA have in the pipeline? When will the first electric-only ŠKODA see the light of day? Bernhard Maier, ŠKODA AUTO CEO , discussed this, the new-generation OCTAVIA and production capacities in an interview with ŠKODA Storyboard.

1. 3. 2019 Lifestyle People

If you were to sum up 2018 in one word, what would that word be?
Unquestionably exciting! (laughs)

2018 was another record-breaking year for ŠKODA. What underpins this ongoing successful trend?
By delivering 1,253,700 vehicles, we chalked up record figures for the fifth year in a row. This success shows: ŠKODA is growing at a stable and sustainable rate, despite 2018 placing numerous demands across the entire industry, including the change to the new WLTP emission standard. Our ŠKODA Strategy 2025 is working and our product campaign is gathering momentum around the world. 

ŠKODA Model Range 2019

Spiralling demand for ŠKODAs currently outstrips supply. How do you plan to make up for this shortfall in production capacities?
Yes, this lack of capacity is indeed our bottleneck. So we are in a situation where we need to squeeze as much as possible out of our current capacities at each of our plants in order to bridge the gap until a new factory is built. The Group’s board of directors has already given us the green light to find a site and draw up blueprints. If everything goes according to plan, from 2023 we could for example produce there the KAROQ and the ATECA. But no final decision has been made.

Which events from the past year would you say will become milestones in ŠKODA’s history?
Lots of decisions spring to mind. Within the Group, we are assuming responsibility for India and the Russian region. The Group has also entrusted us to develop the new generation of the Volkswagen PASSAT and the ŠKODA SUPERB. From 2023, the two models will be produced at our Kvasiny plant. At the same time, we introduced seven new products, including the new SCALA and the sporty KODIAQ RS. Another important milestone is surely our biggest ever investment program: In the next four years, we will be investing EUR 2 billion into the development of alternative drives and new mobility services.


Let’s take a look at what lies ahead. What will ŠKODA be presenting at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, which is about to start in a couple of days’ time?
Our new compact model, the SCALA, is celebrating its motor show debut. The world premiere in Tel Aviv in early December last year was an exceptional moment that gained a very positive response from the world’s media.

Besides the SCALA, we will be unveiling our new city SUV, the KAMIQ, to the global public. This is another step forward in our SUV offensive and rounds off our offer at the lower end of the range. It gives the SUV program a distinct hierarchy with a clear product and brand identity.

And there will be other highlights which we will present in Geneva – stay tuned!

ŠKODA KAMIQ – nové městské SUV

And what product innovations will you be rolling out as the year progresses?
I don’t want to give too much away at the moment, but one thing is for sure – more than 30 new models will make their way to market by the end of 2022. More than 10 of these will be partially or fully electric.

One of these new models will be the new generation of the brand’s iconic OCTAVIA. It´s celebrating its 60th birthday this year. With the new version, we take a huge leap in design, connectivity and driver assistance systems. This year we are launching e-mobility. This is a truly exceptional moment in our company’s 124-year history. Against this backdrop, we will be showcasing our first plug-in hybrid and first electric-only car.


What challenges will ŠKODA be facing this year?
For the whole automotive industry 2019 will be a pivotal year: we are preparing intensively ourselves intensively for the new EU emission standards that will be mandatory from 2020. The new WLTP-emission standard will also take up capacity. All this is compounded by uncertainty on global markets, prompted in part by Brexit and the further escalation of the trade conflict between the US and China. These problems will dampen the world economy severely until they are resolved. As a result, the forecasts in our largest single market China stay volatile.

The Group has also given us new tasks. For example, we are in charge of the INDIA 2.0 project and we have taken over responsibility for the Russian region and preparations for the production of the new-generation PASSAT and SUPERB, with their entire product families being made at the Kvasiny plant starting in 2023.Other important milestones will include digital transformation and expansion into new markets.

We are clearly not going to be twiddling our thumbs this year. (smiles)


What do integrity, compliance and corporate culture mean to ŠKODA?
Essentially it is about being open, honest, and trustworthy, and dealing with others on eye-level.

It´s about how we think, act, our attitude and behavior. All of this is wrapped up in the Together4integrity programme initiated by the Volkswagen Group. The aim is for the Group and its marques to have programs supporting a high degree of integrity and compliance, with an accent on corporate culture and value-oriented foundations. These programs clearly spell out high standards of conduct and we are keen to compete with them. Acting in line with the statutes will guarantee our reputation, economic prosperity and, not least, jobs. This is precisely why this area is so important to us.

What are you looking forward to most this year?
I already mentioned our product campaign. This year we lay the foundation to strengthen our foundations so that ŠKODA is even more stably and firmly anchored in the world by building up new sales positions and expanding the customer base through new products and services.

Looking further into the future, the transformation process is set to pick up this year. It’s challenging, all-encompassing and nerve-wracking for everyone involved. Yet all this has unexpectedly brought us a lot of pleasure because it is a unique opportunity for us to actively and jointly shape the future of our industry. And that’s something I’m very happy about.