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The Spacious Sedan That Americans Still Can't Buy Turns 20 Years Old Today
Most Americans have never heard of the Skoda brand, yet it exists for 125 years. The Czech marque is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its top-of-the line model, the Skoda Superb. It made its debut on 11th of September 2001 at the IAA Show in Frankfurt, and Skoda decided to remind everyone of the Superb's anniversary.

The Spacious Sedan That Americans Still Can't Buy Turns 20 Years Old Today

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Back when the Superb name returned to the market, it counted on the success of its predecessors from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as on its B5 PL45+ platform, which was derived from the Volkswagen Passat B5's technical underpinnings. At the time, the Superb B5 (internal designation 3U) also shared its platform with the B6/B7 Audi A4.

Together with the corresponding Passat B5, the Czech large saloon conquered the hearts of those looking for a spacious family sedan. It was kept in production for seven years, and it was the only notchback model in the range. At the time of its debut, the Skoda Superb was offered with a lifetime mobility guarantee.

Over 136,000 units of the first generation Superb were built across the world. At first, Skoda built cars in the modernized facility in Kvasiny, where the VW Group invested 200 million euros. Eventually, Skoda started building the Superb in Ukraine, China, and even Kazakhstan. The latter three focused their production for the local market, as did the factory in India.

The first-generation Superb was launched a year after Skoda Auto became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. That happened a decade after the Czech government struck a deal with Volkswagen, which led to a joint-venture partnership agreement started in 1991 with the German conglomerate. As time passed, VW eventually bought the rest of the Skoda shares, becoming its sole owner. Coming back to the Superb, Skoda only built 581 units in 2001, but deliveries started in spring 2002.

It is important to note that Skoda built 172,000 vehicles in 1991, out of which 26 percent were exported to 30 countries. Ten years later, the Czech company built 435,000 units in the year 2000 alone and exported 82 percent of those to 72 countries. For reference, Skoda currently employs over 43,000 people (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) globally and has a presence in over 100 markets.

March 2008 brought the launch of the second-generation Superb, which was the first to be offered in an estate version. Its sedan variant came with a trunk lid that was innovative at the time because it could be opened in two separate ways. The user could press one button to open it as a conventional trunk of a sedan, while another button on the trunk (both concealed) allowed opening it like a hatchback, including the rear window.

The second-generation Superb managed to sell 618,000 units across the world. Interestingly, the first-generation model was also considered to receive a wagon body style, but it was reported that executives feared it may cannibalize Volkswagen Passat Variant sales, as well as potentially jeopardize the sale of entry-level Avant models from Audi.

The third generation of the Skoda Superb arrived in 2015, and it marked the shift to an MQB platform, just like the B8 Passat did a year earlier. Both models shared the PQ46 platform for their predecessors, so it was natural for the MQB to reach both sedans at the same time. The third generation of the Superb has exceeded 700,00 units manufactured since its introduction.

If you have been paying attention to figures, you might have noticed that Skoda has made and sold almost 1.5 million Superb models over the last 20 years. Somehow, the Czech brand was never brought to North America, despite rumors that started after the Czech marque trademarked several of its model names at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Later statements clarified that Skoda has no plans of entering the U.S. or Canadian markets. The brand is virtually unknown to American consumers, and Skoda would have to sell its cars through Volkswagen dealerships, which could cannibalize sales of comparable VW models.

Another issue would be the focus on European customer preferences, which do not match those of their American homologs. The situation would lead to increased development costs for the brand, which the VW Group can easily avoid.

It is important to note that the American version of the VW Passat is set to cease production in 2023 due to reduced demand, so the Superb has no chance of ever being sold through a dealer in the United States of America or Canada. 

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