VW's brand may be tarnished, but Skoda is completely clean.
A few months ago, we reported that Volkswagen's Czech brand Skoda had filed for trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office. So far, Skoda has registered the Yeti, Octavia, Superb and its vRS sport trim. We were unsure if the brand was really plotting a return to the US, or if these trademarks were just filed preemptively. Now, Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier told Handelsblatt that "In the course of the coming year, we want to decide on the question of North America." Skoda is planning to expand its sales, but will North America be a part of these plans?
Skoda currently sells car in 102 countries and plans to expand to 120 countries by 2025. In order to do this, Skoda plans to expand its lineup from the current six models including the Citigo, Fabia, Octavia, Rapid, Yeti, and Superb. A large SUV called the Kodiaq is in the works, and could sell well in the US. Skoda became a part of Volkwagen in 1991, and hasn't sold cars in the US since the 1960s. Most US consumers have never even heard of Skoda, which may sound like a disadvantage. However, Volkswagen is seriously considering the possibility that its image in North America has been irreparably damaged in the aftermath of the Dieselgate scandal.
Profits for the Volkswagen brand are down 86% since the scandal, but the VW Group is still profitable thanks to brands like Audi, Porsche, and Skoda. We were surprised to hear that Volkswagen was considering bringing the Skoda brand to the US, but the entire Dieselgate scandal was an even bigger surprise. We aren't sure if Volkswagen's image has been damaged so badly that it won't recover, and it seems like Volkswagen itself is unsure. If the company does decide to cut and run in the US, the Skoda brand may offer a blank slate to start over in North America.