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Skoda has entered what it describes as 'the age of eMobility' by officially unveiling its iV sub-brand, which will be used to denote all of the marque's future electrified models.
The flagship Superb model was showcased at an event in Bratislava in both a revised and electrified version. The Citigo-e iV, the brand's first mass-produced electric car, was also premiered at the event.
Bernhard Maier, the brand's board chairman, explained what Skoda's electric future will look like.
"Long ranges, short charging times and, especially important for us at Skoda, affordable prices," he said. "In this way, we are actively shaping the transformation of our company from, let's say, a volume manufacturer to a Simply Clever company for the best mobility solutions."
The plug-in Superb, called Superb iV, uses the same drivetrain as the Volkswagen Passat GTE - a turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with a gearbox-mounted electric motor and a 13kWh lithium-ion battery, which is positioned underneath the rear seats, for a combined output of 215bhp and a 34-mile all-electric driving range under the WLTP test cycle. It can be charged on the move, overnight or in three hours and 30 minutes using a wall box.
The plug-in hybrid powertrain is coupled to a standard six-speed automatic gearbox and emits less than 40g/km of CO2. With the 50-litre fuel tank filled and the battery fully charged, Skoda claims that the car can be driven for up to 528 miles.
Maier continued: "We need to transform our product portfolio in the long-run from combustion to the electric car and we believe that battery electric drive will be the most efficient technology available in the foreseeable [future] for sustainably reducing CO2 emissions to the 95g target we are all aiming for."
Speaking about why the manufacturer has only just decided to venture into electric, he explained: "E-mobility is the game changer but it needs time and technology expertise. Now we feel it has reached that level, so it is time for us as a volume manufacturer to get started with e-mobility.
"We have been carefully listening to our customers and wanted to bring the technology to the market when it had reached its necessary maturity of short charging times, long ranges, and accessibility to charging points."
Christian Strube, the Skoda board member responsible for technical development, said: "It is always a particular challenge to improve what is already a fascinating product. However, for our flagship, the Superb, it was a challenge that we accepted with pleasure. Our two electrified vehicles are just the beginning. I can tell you that the electric future of Skoda is exciting and full of promise."
As well as a new powertrain, the Superb has also had a bit of a restyle and inside comes with a multifunctional colour display that can be fitted as an option with the virtual cockpit. The infotainment system, with standard 8in or optional 9.2in displays, is all-new and gives users access to a variety of functions. Minor styling updates over the regular Superbs include the redesigned front bumper with a honeycomb structure and the iV badge at the rear.
The venue in Bratislava also hosted another unveiling - the electric-only Skoda Citigo-e iV. This small zero-emission car offers a range of up to 265km per charge.
"These two cars here outline our commitment to battery electric technology and how serious we are taking it," explained Maier. "We expect electric to account for 25% of our new model sales by 2025, which will allow us to safeguard sites and jobs in the future too. We already have 30,000 employees trained in e-mobility and we are investing ?120 million (£110 million) in training and education in the next few years too. It is a very exciting time indeed."
Strube added: "Entering the era of e-mobility is an important step into the future for Skoda. The Superb iV plug in hybrid and the Citigo-e iV are just the beginning. The first all-electric Skoda based on Volkswagen Group's MEB modular electric car platform will follow as early as 2020."