Clever variant management should keep supply going strong. Some features can be added back later.
The Skoda Kushaq, as with most cars launched in 2021, came into this world right in the heart of a global microchip shortage. With an ever-growing demand for more tech in cars – screens, sensors, connectivity and just about anything that’s electronically controlled – the reliance on these chips has grown correspondingly.
There doesn’t appear to be an end to this shortage in sight in the near future, and fewer chips means fewer cars with these highly sought-after features. Carmakers, as a result, have had to react quickly and cleverly to make sure they can still supply desirable cars to customers, even without the chips and the features that rely on them.
- Active Peace, Ambition Classic lose audio system, climate control, respectively
- Audio system, power-folding mirrors can be retro-fitted at later stage
- Tyre pressure monitoring, engine stop/start to become standard on Kushaq
Skoda skilfully skirts silicone scarcity
In a direct response to the microchip shortage, two new variants of the Skoda Kushaq were recently launched, both with some features removed – a new base model called the Kushaq Active Peace and a mid-range model called the Kushaq Ambition Classic. The latter is based on the Kushaq Ambition 1.0 TSI, but costs Rs 30,000 less – Rs 12.69 lakh – and foregoes automatic climate control, sticking with a manual AC instead.
Additionally, while it retains the 10.0-inch touchscreen, it loses connected car tech, and wireless functionality for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – you have to use a USB cable for the same.
More interesting is the Kushaq Active Peace, which, as the new entry point to the Kushaq range, has brought down the starting price to a compact-SUV-like Rs 9.99 lakh (ex-showroom). For a whole lakh less than the Kushaq Active, it did without even the basic audio system, speakers and USB ports. This variant, however, was limited to just 600 units, all of which are already sold out.
Some missing features can be added back when available
What should reassure buyers reluctant to opt for these de-contented variants is that Skoda says it can retrofit some of the missing features for buyers at a later stage, once the components become more easily available; at a cost, of course. For instance, the audio system missing from the Kushaq Active Peace variant can be added back in at a cost of Rs 30,000. In fact, though the head unit is missing, the steering wheel still retains its audio controls, which would just need to be reconnected should the system be added back. Meanwhile, power-folding wing mirrors, which you don’t get on the Active Peace and Active variants, can be added to the Kushaq for Rs 25,000.
Moreover, much like its Volkswagen counterpart, the Taigun, the Skoda Kushaq could also see the introduction of tyre-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and fuel-saving engine stop/start tech as standard across the model range. While these features will, no doubt, aid with safety and fuel economy, respectively, they will only drive the cost higher.
Kushaq Monte Carlo launched with even more features
At the opposite end to the aforementioned new, lower-spec Skoda Kushaq variants, the Czech brand has also introduced a fully loaded model with all the bells and whistles – the Kushaq Monte Carlo. Crucially, this version adds another screen to the features list – an 8.0-inch digital instrument screen – and though this will no doubt be dependent on another microchip, it’s a feature Skoda simply could not avoid introducing. High demand for digital dials saw them being offered from launch in the Slavia sedan, and we too had marked the Kushaq down for missing this feature in our first drive review.
As for introducing new, lower-spec models to an existing product’s range, this is not the first time that Skoda has done this. There was the rather popular Skoda Octavia Rider – a mid-range variant for the first-gen sedan introduced in the mid-2000s, and, more recently, the Skoda Rapid Rider and Rider Plus – new base models with knockout prices that were hugely successful.
Back to the Kushaq though. Skoda says it’s the mid-range 1.0 TSI Ambition AT variant that’s in highest demand, and there’s generally a 50:50 split between manual and auto variants across the range. With a clever management of variants, Skoda should be able to circumvent the chip shortage to an extent and keep its production lines moving smoothly and without pause. Critically, though, it also means customers have a wider choice of variants, and can circumvent an otherwise long waiting period for a Kushaq.
Would you give up a few features if it translated to a shorter waiting period? Let us know in the comments section below.