RU­MOUR HAS IT…

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

It is com­mon knowl­edge that Volk­swa­gen SA (VW SA) has been look­ing at bring­ing the Skoda brand to SA.

Once the butt of nu­mer­ous jokes (Why does a Skoda have a heated rear wind­screen? To keep your hands warm when you are push­ing it!), the brand is now well re­spected and pro­duces some great cars based on other VW mod­els.

Ryan Searle, boss of sales and prod­uct plan­ning at VW SA, told Mo­tor News that the vi­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment had been com­pleted and any de­ci­sion to bring Skoda to SA now rests with VW Group boss Her­bert Diess. Searle said that any de­ci­sion would re­quire com­mit­ment to lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing of the brand in SA though and be­cause of this it will be at least three years be­fore we could see Skoda on our roads.

If it does come, Searle says it will have to be priced be­low VW to be com­pet­i­tive and that could be a stum­bling block to the whole plan. There are ru­mours that Ford is plan­ning to re­turn to the half-tonne bakkie mar­ket with a new global model based on the lat­est-gen­er­a­tion Fo­cus, which re­cently had its in­ter­na­tional launch.

Ford has not been in the half-tonne mar­ket in SA since the demise of the Ban­tam, leav­ing it all to the Nis­san NP200 af­ter the Chevro­let Util­ity dis­ap­peared with the de­par­ture of Gen­eral Mo­tors in 2017.

A spokesper­son for Ford South­ern Africa dis­missed the ru­mour, although some sources say it will be built in Brazil for global mar­kets. Hyundai is bring­ing its Kona cross­over to SA in the last quar­ter of 2018, how­ever it ap­pears that its par­ent com­pany is de­vel­op­ing an even smaller cross­over.

Our sources have spot­ted a mini­crossover that will be built on the same plat­form as Kia’s Stonic and that is ex­pected to re­place the Ac­cent hatch­back. It could be seen as a ri­val to the Kia Soul and Toy­ota C-HR but as yet no de­tails are avail­able. We still have no idea when the new Porsche 911 will make its de­but de­spite us bring­ing you de­tails and spy pics reg­u­larly over the last year.

Sen­si­ble money would be on it mak­ing its de­but in 2018 as it is the 70th an­niver­sary of the mar­que but even though the com­pany it­self is now re­leas­ing some info, a launch date still eludes us.

The com­pany is test­ing the GTS ver­sion, which nor­mally comes much later in the life cy­cle of a new model. It will again use the com­pany’s 3.0l twin­turbo flat six and will be avail­able with a man­ual or PDK trans­mis­sion. Sources say it will have the Car­rera 4 wide body and fea­ture some GT3 de­tails. Whether it will be shown at the same time as the re­veal of the new 911 re­mains to be seen. Mercedes con­tin­ues to test its EQ C, the brand’s first fully elec­tric car that is sched­uled to ar­rive in SA, prob­a­bly late in 2019 or early in 2020.

Our spies spot­ted the EQ C test­ing in the UK and have con­firmed that it will use ei­ther a 300kW elec­tric mo­tor on the rear axle or a 300kW rear mo­tor and a 90kW or 150kW mo­tor on the front axle. It will sit on the com­pany’s new mod­u­lar rear ar­chi­tec­ture that de­buted in the lat­est C-Class and will fea­ture adap­tive sus­pen­sion, re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing and elec­tric torque vec­tor­ing.

Skoda could be in SA in three years if the Volk­swa­gen Group gives the go-ahead.

Audi has re­leased this im­age of the PB18 E-tron con­cept it will show at Peb­ble Beach. Mercedes is con­tin­u­ing tests on its EQ C elec­tric ve­hi­cle, which will be sold in SA.

Is Hyundai plan­ning a smaller cross­over than the up­com­ing Kona?

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