History of SKODA

Václav Laurin and Václav Klement

At the beginning of December 1895 the mechanic Václav Laurin and the book-seller Václav Klement, both bicycle enthusiasts, started manufacturing bicycles of their own design, patriotically named Slavia in the nationalist atmosphere of the end of the 19th century. A few years later, in 1899, the Laurin & Klement Co. began producing motorcycles, which were soon successful and gained several racing victories. After initial experiments at the turn of century, production of motorcycles was gradually replaced by automobiles from 1905 onwards.

Skoda 1905-1918/25

Like the motor cycles, the 1st Laurin & Klement automobile, the Voiturette A was a full success, later becoming the archetype of classic Czech automobile. It soon formed a stable position for the Company in the developing international automobile market, so that the Company could soon start operating on a wide scale. The volume of production increased and soon exceeded the potential of a private enterprise, and in 1907 the founders of the Company initiated conversion to a joint-stock company. The international character of Škoda’s operations became increasingly important. The production facilities were extended constantly and after 1914, Škoda took part in the production for the armed forces.

Skoda 1925-1938/39

Due to the country’s economic development, the joint venture with a strong industrial partner became essential in the nineteen twenties in order to strengthen and modernize the Company, which was at that time producing numerous types of passenger cars, trucks, busses, airplane engines and agricultural machinery. In 1925, fusion with the Pilsen Škoda Co. was accomplished, marking the end of the Laurin & Klement trademark. In the early 1930s, the automotive business was again organized as a separate joint-stock company within the Škoda Group (Automobile Industry Co., ASAP). After the crisis, the Company achieved a break-through with the Type Škoda Popular.

Skoda 1939-1945/48

The German occupation in 1939 to 1945 caused a considerable disruption in the history of the company, which was integrated into the industrial structure of the German Empire. The civilian production programme was immediately limited and production was turned to its needs. In the course of a large-scale nationalisation which began immediately after the end of the war, the Company became a national enterprise named AZNP in 1946. Within the political and economic changes of that time, it acquired the monopoly of passenger car production.

Skoda 1948-1989/90

Based on the traditional production processes and past success, the Czechoslovak economy managed to maintain a relatively good standard in the post/socialist period for several decades, in spite of the changes brought about by planned economy and efforts at unduly rapid growth. This standard only became questionable towards the end of the nineteen sixties due to development of new technology in the western world. The permanent stagnation of the economy started after the seventies, also affecting the Mladá Boleslav automobile manufacturer in spite of the company’s leading position in the East Europe market. Production grew again only when the model range Škoda Favorit went into production in 1987.

Skoda 1991

After the political changes of 1989, under the new market economy conditions the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic and the management of Škoda began to search for a strong foreign partner whose experience and investments would be capable of securing long-range international competitiveness of the company. In December 1990, the Government decided to cooperate with the German Volkswagen Group. The Škoda – Volkswagen joint venture began to operate on 16 April 1991 under the name Škoda, automobilová a.s., becoming the fourth brand of the Volkswagen Group alongside VW, AUDI and SEAT.

Skoda New Era

Backed by VW expertise and investments the design — both style and engineering — has improved greatly. The 1994 model Felicia was still based on the floorpan of the Favorit, but quality improvements helped and in the Czech Republic the car was as popular as it was value for money. The subsequent models Octavia and Fabia finally made their way to the demanding European Union markets. They are built on common Volkswagen Group floorpans. The latest Octavia is based on Golf Mk5 floorpan, and Fabia is based on the A0 floorpan. This is interesting, as it came out a year before VW released the new Polo that was also based on it.

The perception of Škoda in Western Europe has changed completely. As technical development progressed and attractive new models were brought to market, Škoda's image was initially slow to improve. In the UK, a major turnabout was achieved with the ironic "It is a Škoda, honest" campaign, which was started in the early 2000s. In a 2003 advertisement on British television, a new employee on the production line is fitting Škoda badges on the car bonnets. When some attractive looking cars come along he stands back, not fitting the badge, since they look so good they cannot be Škodas. This market campaign worked by confronting Škoda's image problem head-on — a tactic which marketing professionals regard as high risk. If the Fabia and Octavia had been anything less than excellent cars, the campaign might have backfired badly. By 2005, Škoda was selling over 30,000 cars a year in the UK, a market share of over 1%. For the first time in its UK history, a waiting list developed for deliveries by Škoda. Škoda owners in the UK have consistently ranked the brand at or near the top of the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey during the 2000s.

Škoda now has several manufacturing and assembly plants, including one in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Škoda also has an assembly plant in the city of Aurangabad, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra which was established in 2001 as Skoda Auto India Private Ltd.
In 2006, Škoda presented its brand new model Roomster, which is a small MPV with a unique design, which reflects future trends. At the end of December 2006, Škoda also released the first official pictures of the new Fabia, a model that would replace Fabia in 2007.

Later in 2008, Škoda released the first pictures of the new Octavia. Featuring new headlights, front grill/bumper as well as a slightly restyled rear and interior. The revised car also features a new selection of engines including the 1.4 TFSI and new common rail diesel engines.

A new concept car was presented at the Paris Auto Show in September 2006. The concept was called Joyster, and is a three-door compact car intended especially for young people.

In 2005 the company produced 494,637 vehicles, and on 22 November 2006, produced the 500,000th vehicle of 2006, the first time in Škoda's long history that this target had been reached. In 2008 over 670.000 vehicles had been sold.