In the recent months after acquiring the Octavia (read about it here:)


it amuses me when listening to friends and family around me comment about the car and the brand. The reactions range from a blank stare to guessing it being a Russian car. We have to admit, the Skoda brand awareness have a lot of room to grow. And it’s not surprising given there is zero activity to promote this awareness in our country. Honestly, I didn’t know Skoda has more than 100 years of history. I am aware that they’re part of the Volkswagen Audi Group and VAG has done a fantastic job at making Skoda a very successful international brand. Sadly, not very successful in Malaysia.

The distributor of the Skoda brand is Auto Phraha, a company under the Berjaya Group. It is located in Glenmarie, Shah Alam and currently sharing its premise with Bermaz Motor Sdn Bhd, the authorized importer and distributor of Mazda. A visit to the showroom may puzzle first timers. For one, the only major Skoda logo you can see is on the top right side of the building and is partially covered by trees (the left is Bermaz). The only clear indication that it is a Skoda showroom is a number of Skodas parked outside. It is understandable that many may miss this place. The good news is, I hear that Bermaz will be moving out to their new premise next door and the current place will be refurnished to be a full Skoda showroom. Good that they now have a proper home.

While we wait for the new (old) place to be up, lets look at the sales experience. There is no Skoda on display inside the showroom even though the building is supposedly shared with Mazda. All vehicles inside are Mazda. You then proceed to the front counter and ask the sales person where are the Skodas. The sales person then informs you they’re Mazda sales guys and tells you to wait while they attempt to locate the Skoda SA. On some days, that SA is not to be found

So, we conclude that Skoda Malaysia has:-

1) No proper showroom
2) No display cars that allows easy access of potential customers
3) No proper reception in the showroom
4) No sales advisors to provide information about what they’re supposed to sell
5) There is not a single printed or TV advertisement about Skoda.

See the problem?

Still, all is not lost for Skoda. Volkswagen is making lots of headway into the Malaysian automobile market and terms like TSi and DSG are becoming more common place at the local tea drinking sessions at the local coffee shops. Technologies that are also found inside Skoda. The way is being paved for it to make a big impact. So let’s play a hypothetical question; if Berjaya became serious in wanting to push Skoda here, how best to do it?

Let’s talk about Skoda’s model range. For the sake of comparison, let’s put the equivalent VW models that more and more Malaysians are familiar nowadays:

VW Polo – Skoda Fabia RS
VW Vento (aka a Polo with a boot) – Skoda Rapid

VW Jetta – Skoda Laura (previously Octavia)

VW Passat – Skoda Superb

In terms of engine types, we may have the 1.2 TSi, 1.8TSi and 2.0TSi. All of which are petrol engines which can’t leverage on VAG’s turbo diesel technology that made it so successful in other countries. Having said that, the other brands such as VW and Audi also suffers the same handicap so fair game for all. Presently, Auto Praha offers the Skoda Octavia (Laura) RS (sporting the ubiquitous Golf GTi 2.0litre TSi engine) and Superb (powered by the same 1.8TSi engine in the new Passat). Both are selling at prices above RM180k, well beyond the reach of most Malaysians. Imagine this: one of VW’s key objectives is to make it affordable until it’s “the People’s Car”. And Skoda is supposedly a little bit cheaper compared to VW. Auto Praha’s decision to bring in the most expensive Skoda models makes it an insurmountable task in building the brand. In other words, it’s pricing itself out of the Malaysian automotive equation.

Let us assume that Auto Praha wakes up to this fact that decides to launch the Fabia, Rapid and Laura (and pricing them 5-10% cheaper than the equivalent VW model), the next task it needs to tackle is how to position its cars against other contenders in the same segment (this includes its sister companies, VW and Audi). Obviously, it can’t carve a more significant market share simply by price, especially when the Koreans are fast catching up. Depending overtly much on the roots of VAG is also not ideal since 1) the Skoda brand is far less developed compared to VW. Skoda is NOT VW no matter how similar they are and 2) VAG’s global strategy is to set up 3 tiers of brand positioning: Audi for luxury, VW for medium and Skoda for value-for-money. Skoda needs to stand on its own two feet and present a 3rd affordable VAG for the public.

Revamping the model line-up is a definite must. In our market where prices are insanely inflated due to taxes, promoting the most expensive contradicts the positioning of Skoda. I am actually a bit surprised that Skoda is content with the current sales turnover (which I do not expect to be a lot) for the entire Malaysia. Bringing lower priced models may sway those considering more expensive Japanese and Korean models.

Next is to segment the market, analyze the target group and purchase the appropriate above/below the line advertisement. Ever seen a Fiat advertisement lately on TV? No? Not surprised that Fiat is dying here, isn’t it? No car manufacturer can ever hope to establish itself without generating noise in the market; loud enough to be heard …. better if it can drown out the competition.

Do test drive sessions, give long warranty (remember, it has to be as good as, if not better than what VW is offering now which is 5 years), free service and maintenance, demonstrate how spacious and practical having a Skoda at home (seriously, after getting the Octy, no other boot is ever the same), run a advertisement campaign giving away a free car to get more info on those who’re interested to know (and hopefully buy) more about the brand are just some of the few strategies Auto Praha can do. Focus on location with the appropriate demographics. Do online marketing. Facebook is free.

Skoda should be positioned as a viable alternative, not as a direct competitor to other continental brands considering it’s relatively weak branding here in Malaysia. It should aim at those looking for something different yet have the assurance that the money they are paying is getting them what their money is worth. Don’t bother with the Baby Boomers (they’re probably too ingrained in the T & H brand), focus on the late Gen X and Gen Y buyers …. they are more receptive in stepping outside established norms and try new things.

Expand the distribution network. Probably start 3 on your own before pitching it to others to open dealerships. At least the 3 main cities (Klang Valley, Penang, Johor) must have at least one for the convenience of owners.

There’s so many things that can be done …. yet the brand has remained static for years. I do hope someone does something more so that everyone. And I hope to see something like this in one of its new model launches:-


So cool!

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  1. May 19, 2012 at 12:07 am — Reply

    well, they could hire those who have recently moved out of automotive marketing.

  2. Karl von Jitry
    May 31, 2012 at 4:07 am — Reply

    After paid a visit to Bermaz-Skoda distributor yesterday one thing that l can concluded: Berjaya is gagal to upheld Skoda name. So do, VW Group Malaysia. VGM should put every single VW brand names under their eyes and they must act as the master of all VW brands/

  3. Tan SP
    June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    I was in Germany for the last 2 week and rented a Skoda Octavia 1.6TSI with 6 speed manual trans (I booked for an Peogeot 308 but get a Skoda instead)
    I was stunned by the built quality, performance, room and ultimate fuel efficiency (4 adults with our baggages & things we shopped, ave fuel cons is only 17.5KM/ lit-30% highway)
    My Honda is nothing but junk comparing to this beast, love it.
    Too bad Skoda Malaysia is seeling at a roket price price. love to own it

    • June 6, 2012 at 10:20 pm — Reply

      That’s why the 2nd hand Skodas are good picks here … cheaper than a Lagi Power Lagi Best MyVi

  4. tansp
    June 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm — Reply

    I hardly find any 2nd hand Skoda in the market, you have any clues?

    Please do not compare between a Myvi and Skoda, Myvi is nothing but junk comparing to a Skoda. ha!

    • June 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm — Reply

      Well, I got mine for RM55k (which is the reason why I say it’s cheaper than a Myvi) from

      Most 2nd hand units registered around 2006 are being sold between RM50k – RM60k. Hunt around.

      • mas
        December 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm — Reply

        yay mkIII finally had int’l launch

      • Ac
        September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am — Reply

        Hi, saw a Skoda for sale in The price is good, but when I asked around, my friends discouraged me to buy, reason being, no spare parts and expensive maintanance. What’s your advice? Since you bought 1 Skoda.

        • September 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm — Reply

          Hi Ac,

          I am guessing most of your friends have your best interest in mind for recommending you not to buy a Skoda. I am also hazarding that none of them owns/have owned a Skoda so they use the most common perceptions about rare continentals to advise you. Before I go on, you need to be aware that there are 2 kinds of Octavias being sold in the 2nd hand market; an older 1.8litre turbocharged (easily identified by a more squarish front and rear lamps) and the unit I feature here which is the 2.0litre NA engine. In terms of maintenance, the 1.8litre would cost more because its engine architecture (and the addition of a turbocharger) requires more work to be done if it is a major service. Maintenance for my 2.0litre is once every 10,000km, using fully synthetic engine oil which depending on the brand you use would cost anywhere between RM200 to RM350 (5 litres required). If the car is brought back to Glenmarie authorized SC, they only charge labor if you bring the parts so each regular service would cost about RM400 – RM500.

          Major servicing, like any other car would require change of ATF (recommended to be done every 40,000km), the timing belt (and related components) every 100,000km (the timing belt change is the most expensive and like most continental would cost you somewhere in the region of RM1,500 to RM1,700) plus other things like brake pads, spark plugs which after market parts are easily available.

          I consider the maintenance to be not that much different from other continentals (and slightly more expensive than Japanese/local cars where servicing is required every 5,000km). I have not had an issue with parts availability as the parts used are all Volkswagen and Audi. In case you’re wondering if VW/Audi parts are expensive, they are about 20-30% higher but they would outlast any Asian cars by at least 50% longer (personal opinion). I have listed places where you can find those parts in the article so you can always refer to get quotes from them for some of the regular service/change items to conclude if it is expensive for you.

          Last but not least, exercise caution when buying 2nd hand cars. If possible, get the full service record and have a friend who knows about cars (best if a mechanic) to follow you to examine the car for accidents or defects. Until today, I have no regrets buying this and funny thing was, my dad drove it once and a few months later, he went out to buy the same model as mine!

  5. zaihan
    November 13, 2013 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Hi kensomuse.. thanks for sharing ur experience with us.. very useful info.. here i have a few question.. i just bought 2nd hand skoda octavia 1.8l turbo.. can u list down the latest price for the spare part.. such as timing belt etc.. and where is the good service center.. (i live in ampang park)? One more thing what should i change or check immediately for the maintenance of this car..


    • November 13, 2013 at 10:51 am — Reply

      I’m sorry, I don’t run a spare parts shop so can’t tell you how much they cost. However, most Skoda users buy from See Soon. You can try contacting them to find out more about the prices. Note that you have to show them your chassis number before they can quote you the price.

      As for maintenance, you need to know when was the last time the timing belt was change, how is the air conditioning, when was the last time the automatic transmission fluid was changed, check for any weird suspension noise and, of course tires!

  6. Jeri
    April 15, 2015 at 12:14 am — Reply

    Hi, found out your blog upon googling skoda malaysia. How’s your octy doing? Still driving it?

    • April 16, 2015 at 8:36 am — Reply

      Yup, going strong …. planning to give it a fresh coat of paint soon

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