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Skoda joins a list of new imports


Volkswagen Group Australia yesterday said it would begin importing Skoda Octavia sedans and wagons and the Roomster small people mover in October.

The 101-year-old Czech sister brand of VW joins Americans Dodge and Hummer, and Italian brand Fiat as new marques in the Australian market, with GM Holden also planning to introduce Cadillac within a year and several Chinese brands due for import.

VGA managing director Jutta Dierks said Skoda would represent a cheaper "smart alternative" to VW and would "attract people away from other brands".

"Whenever we take over an importership we have a long-term commitment," she said.

"There are more than 50 brands in the country so it will be tough to start with, but it is a long-term process."

Skoda's Australian chief and VGA public relations general manager Matthew Wiesner said they hoped to have dealers organised by the launch of the brand.

"We're going through the network now and we hope to have 12 to 15 dealers by launch time,"he said. "We'll use selected existing VW dealers at first but the brand needs to be separate."

Skoda was last in the Australian market in 1983. In 1991 Volkswagen bought 30 per cent of the Czech company and the remaining shares in 2000.

Wiesner said the Skoda vehicle range would include a mix of diesel and petrol, sedans and wagons.

The new Fabia five-door hatch small car, launched this month at the Geneva Motor Show, is under consideration for 2008.

Skoda employs more than 27,000 people and sells in 90 countries.