Skoda is not on America’s radar screen. It’s just another one of those weird European brands like Peugeot, SEAT, and Citroen that aren’t sold here. But Skoda is part of the Volkswagen Group, which means it has access to all the same technology that Audi and Porsche do. Volkswagen is basing its future on electric cars and it appears that it intends to use the Skoda brand to sell cars in China. Next month, it says it will unveil a new Skoda-badged electric SUV at the Shanghai Auto Show.
The car, known as the Vision E, is said to have a range of 310 miles, as measured by the generous NETC cycle. Subtract about 25% to get an idea of the EPA equivalent — 230 miles or so. A 300 horsepower electric motor is rumored (remember when 300 horsepower was a lot?). It will be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving, which means it can drive itself on the highway and in city traffic and find an open parking space when the need arises. Skoda says it will have 5 all-electric cars in its lineup by 2025.
The Vision E is the fourth electric vehicle concept from Volkswagen Group. The German firm has already shown three concepts for its new I.D. electric car division — the I.D. sedan, the I.D. Buzz van, and the Sedric transportation pod.
Automakers are rolling out dozens of new so-called SUVs that really aren’t. They are more like hatchback sedans. In fact, the companies refer to them as SUV coupes, which is just a contradiction in terms. Buyers say they want an SUV because that means they are not driving a minivan, a wagon, or a truck. But, in reality, they want a car that looks like a five door hatchback but you can’t say that because hatchbacks aren’t cool.
The Skoda Vision E is attractively styled, but what is SUV-like about it is rather a mystery. The BMW X6 and the Mercedes GLC Coupe fall into the class of vehicles that are trying way too hard to be something they are not. The Honda Crosstour went the same route. The upcoming Tesla Model Y seems likely to fall victim to the same muddled thinking.
To American shoppers, the Skoda Vision E may seem irrelevant, but it offers clues to what Volkswagen is planning as it tries to dig itself out of its diesel emissions cheating hole by bringing a flotilla of electric vehicles to market globally.