Sales of new Skoda cars were held back by around 10 per cent last year because its factories in Europe were working flat-out and couldn’t produce more cars.
“We would have been able last year to sell nearly more than 100,000 vehicles than we did because of a lack of production capacity,” says company chairman Bernhard Maier.
Skoda was short of bodybuilding and final assembly capacity at its two main plants in the Czech Republic — Mlada Boleslav and Kvasiny — where it assembles around 800,000 cars a year. A third plant in Slovakia makes the Citigo city hatch.
Models affected include the Fabia, Rapid, Octavia and Superb and the hot-selling Karoq and Kodiaq crossovers.
The loss of 100,000 cars is not far off the total number of Karoq SUVs built last year – an indication of how significant the lost volume is.
Skoda had hoped to increase output at its Czech plants by adding weekend working, but unions vetoed the plans.
Knowing that a crunch point might be coming in assembly capacity, Skoda is looking at opening a third plant in the Czech Republic.
The new plant would be 'multi-brand' and a decision is imminent.
“By the middle of this year we have to decide whether to push the button,” said Maier.
Which models the plant would build has yet to be decided, although Maier describes it as “a completely different product line-up”.
Although the new plant will take some years to come on stream, in return for creating more jobs in the Czech Republic, Skoda hopes unions will agree to weekend working as soon as possible.
Skoda has also had to work around shortages of some petrol and diesel engines due to the difficulties re-homologating for the new WLTP regulations, but Maier pins the bulk of the lost capacity on a shortage of body and final assembly.