Volkswagen patents could lead to the Czech brand’s entry into the U.S. market

Americans may not be familiar with the automotive brand Skoda, but over in Central Europe, the Czech manufacturer is considered as one of the region’s biggest automakers. The company is also regarded as one of the Volkswagen Group’s biggest money-makers alongside Audi and Porsche. That status could very well pave the way for the company to make its first ever foray into the North American market. Recent reports indicate that Skoda has filed a number of trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, specifically trademarking the names Skoda Superb, Octavia, and Yeti. Not surprisingly, those three models are some of Skoda’s biggest selling models in Europe.

The company hasn’t come out and explained the decision behind the trademarks, but there are a couple possibilities. The first is that Skoda simply wants those names protected and having them trademarked ensures that those names won’t be used by another automaker in the North American region. The second and more intriguing reason is that the Volkswagen Group could be planning to launch Skoda in the U.S., a possibility that has grown in the wake of the emissions scandal that has plagued Volkswagen. The drop in public trust for models with the VW badge has sullied the automaker’s status in the U.S., and it wasn’t even considered high in the first place. But with sales going south for VW models, the German auto conglomerate could mitigate that swoon by bringing in Skoda to either take Volkswagen’s place or just offer a new alternative for increasingly discerning U.S. customers.

Whether that situation happens is still up in the air, but the mere suggestion of Skoda entering the U.S. market is interesting to say the least. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, particularly the reception the brand will get from a market that’s largely unfamiliar with the brand and its status over in Europe.

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Why it matters

It may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but it actually is, especially when considering Volkswagen Group’s possible condition if it’s considering making this move to help mitigate the fall of its tarnished VeeDub brand. Should the German auto conglomerate bring Skoda to the U.S. market because of this, it would represent another type of admission on how badly it messed up with emissions scandal. I mean, if they’re looking at Skoda to essentially come in and save the day for Volkswagen, that say’s a lot, doesn’t it? At the very least, it’s an incredible narrative seeing a Czech automaker known for being a big deal in Eastern Europe and various parts of Asia to come in and help out one of the biggest brands in the world. Talk about an incredible role reversal.

On the flip side, if these trademarks are nothing more than a preemptive action to protect the name of its models, it becomes a little trickier to understand what the Volkswagen Group’s motives are. Why file these trademarks in the U.S. if you’re not going to use it? Protecting them seems like an easy explanation, but I think there’s more to it than trying to keep these names away from other companies.

If I’m going to guess, I think that the Volkswagen Group is considering bringing Skoda Stateside. The Czech brand has significantly become more upscale with a lot of its models already overlapping those that are sold by Volkswagen. Sales of Skoda models have eclipsed one million units in each of the past two years, so it’s possible VW already thinks highly enough of Skoda that it believes the automaker can generate a jolt of interest that Volkswagen sorely needs in America.

Rest assured, it’s going to be interesting how this plays out. I honestly never thought I’d see the day when Skoda is launched in the U.S. and yet, look at where we are right now.

Source: Autoguide

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