Škoda has laid out its commitment to the burgeoning electromobility sector with the launch of its all-new iV sub-brand. In what it is calling a new chapter in its 124-year history, the Czech manufacturer premièred two new iV cars – the CITIGOe iV and flagship Superb iV – at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Bratislava.
The launch of the iV sub-brand isn't just about the two new models presented to the public for the first time; it is a central pillar of Škoda's 2025 strategy which includes the investment of two billion euros in the development of both electric cars and other new mobility services – the brand's biggest investment project to date.
Bernhard Maier, Škoda Auto CEO, said: “The right time has now come for Škoda to enter the era of electromobility. We are now able to fulfil essential customer requirements: long ranges, quick charging and – particularly important for us here at Škoda – affordable prices. In addition to our successful petrol, diesel and CNG engines, the new drive systems will quickly become a relevant part of our range. We anticipate that they will make up around 25 per cent of total sales by 2025.” He added that, “With regards to e-mobility, we are also introducing the Škoda iV sub-brand. This will not only include all of our e-models, but will also create a holistic and connected ecosystem in order to make e-mobility as straightforward and convenient as possible for our customers.”
As with the launch of any large-scale initiative, Škoda has been keen to point out the thinking and concept behind iV. Several keywords have made up the cornerstones of how Škoda wants the brand to be viewed, and how it has gone about developing it, including: Innovation, intelligence and inspirational. It also stresses that they want iV models to be iconic in design and character and individual to each person who buys one. The V simply stands for vehicle, which makes sense.
Perhaps more interesting is the ecosystem side of the iV sub-brand through which Škoda is hoping to create a connected system from a customer's home, and throughout Europe. Not dissimilar to the thinking behind Tesla's infrastructure, iV's ecosystem includes affordable wall boxes with different power outputs to facilitate home charging, online services via Škoda Connect to allow drivers to locate and reserve a charging station and the Škoda e-charge card so customers can pay for and use charging points throughout Europe regardless of country or provider.
This holistic way of thinking about the iV sub-brand and level of investment with its 2025 strategy demonstrates just how serious Škoda is taking electromobility.
Škoda's first iV models, unveiled in Bratislava, are the CITIGOe iV and Superb iV, but the brand is planning on having more than ten electrified iV family models on sale by the end of 2022. A key part of achieving this will be the introduction of the first two all-electric vehicles based on parent company Volkswagen Group's modular MEB platform in 2020, one of which will be the Vision iV which we recently featured on Discover EV.
While the name doesn't exactly flow off the tongue, the CITIGOe iV is a very important car for Škoda, being the first all-electric production vehicle in the brand's history. Available exclusively in five-door form (at the time of launch), the car is powered by an 82bhp (61kW) motor that dishes up 155lb-ft of torque through the front wheels. The claimed WLTP range of 165 miles from the 36.8kWh lithium-ion battery is perfectly respectable and moreover, usable, for a city car. Using a combined charging system (CCS) charging cable connected to a 40kW DC fast charger the CITIGOe gains 80 per cent of its charge back in just one hour (this is increased to four hours via a 7.2kW AC wall box or 12h 37min using a 2.3kW home charging station).
The CITIGOe iV will be available in Ambition and Style trim levels with CCS standard on the Style variant but optional on the more lowly Ambition models. Looks-wise, the car is broadly similar to its conventionally-powered siblings with the main tell-tale that you're driving something a bit different given away by a redesigned front-end. Interior-wise the car is again much the same except for a redesigned instrument panel. The cost it yet to be confirmed, so watch this space.
In another first for the brand, the Superb iV represents Škoda's introduction to the world of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Under the skin of the all-new flagship Superb and available in both hatchback and estate form, Škoda has combined a small but efficient 1.4-litre petrol TSI unit with an 114bhp (85kW) electric motor to give a total output of 215bhp. Thanks to a 13kWh battery, the Superb iV can be driven for just over 30 miles on electric power alone in E-mode and charged overnight using a standard plug socket (three hours, 30 minutes with a 3.6kW wall box). Two additional driving modes ensure all driving situations are catered for; SPORT mode utilises the car's maximum power output, 295lb-ft of torque and standard six-speed DSG gearbox to its full potential, while HYBRID mode regulates the petrol engine and electric motor to deliver the best efficiency and 40g/km emissions on the WLTP cycle.
Available in Ambition, Style, SPORTLINE and L&K trim levels, the Superb iV not only comes with the next-generation of Škoda infotainment, it also has iV-specific sub-items that help drivers monitor the hybrid drive system. The infotainment is also far better connected than previous iterations, with on-board Wi-Fi, real-time adaptable traffic and navigation updates, numerous apps and Apple CarPlay and Android Audio connectivity.
There is no word on how much the CITIGOe iV or Superb iV will set you back, but production is set to begin in autumn 2019 with the official launch in early 2020.