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Manufacturers / Czech Republic / Skoda

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Skoda vehicles


Established in 1895 as Laurin and Klement, the company started as a bicycle manufacturer. In 1899 it added motorcycles and in 1905 cars. The first model, Voiturette A, was a success and the company was established both within Austria-Hungary and internationally. During the First World War Skoda was engaged in war production.


After WWI it began producing trucks, but in 1924, after running into problems and being hit by a fire, the company sought a partner. As a result it merged with Škoda Works, the biggest industrial enterprise in Austria-Hungary and then Czechoslovakia. Most later production was under the Škoda name. After a decline during the economic depression, Škoda was again successful with models such as the Popular in the late 1930s.

During the World War II Occupation of Czechoslovakia the Škoda works was turned into part of Hermann Göring Werke serving the German World War II effort.


Skoda 1200 ,1201  (1952)

After WWII Škoda became part of the planned economy and was separated from the parent Škoda company. In spite of unfavourable political conditions and losing contact with technical development in noncommunist countries, Škoda retained a good reputation until the 1960s, producing models such as the Škoda 440 Spartak, 445 Octavia, Felicia and Škoda 1000 MB. Škoda was internationally known for building very tough and reliable cars.


Skoda Rapid R  (1981)

In the late 1980s Škoda (then named Automobilové závody, národní podnik, Mladá Boleslav) was still manufacturing cars conceptually from the 1960s. Rear Engined models such as the Skoda 105/120, Estelle and Rapid sold steadily in many countries and regularily performed very well against more modern makes in races such as the RAC Rally in the 70's and 80's.

The turning point came in 1987 with the Favorit model. The Favorit's appearance was designed by Italian design company Bertone and, with some motor technology licensed from western European companies, Škoda engineers succeeded in designing a car comparable to western production. The technological gap was still there, but began closing rapidly. While still the target of jokes in the West, the Favorits were very popular in Czechoslovakia and other Eastern Bloc countries.They also sold fairly well in Western Europe, especially in the UK, being regarded as good value, solid and reliable.


Skoda Favorit   (1993)

The Velvet Revolution brought great changes to both the politics and economy of Czechoslovakia, and most industries were subject to privatization. In the case of Škoda automobile the government decided to bring in a strong foreign partner. VWAG was chosen in 1990 and on 1991-04-16 Škoda become the fourth brand of VWAG. The example of other Eastern-Bloc automobile manufacturers such as Lada-AutoVAZ and Zastava, and of Škoda works, once Škoda auto parent company, prove this was the right decision. (Privatization to a major German company was somewhat controversial at the time the decision was made.)

Backed by VW know-how and investments the design—both style and engineering—has improved greatly. The 1996 model Felicia was still based on the floorplan of the Favorit, but quality made huge improvements and in the Czech Republic the car was popular as it was good value for money. The subsequent models Octavia and Fabia finally made their way to the demanding EU markets. They are built on common VWAG floorpans, e.g. Octavia on the Golf floorplan and therefore directly related to the VW Golf, Audi A3 and SEAT León.


Skoda Fabia   (2000)

Perception of Škoda in Western Europe has changed completely. While technical development progressed gradually, Škoda's image changed almost overnight. Škoda now uses this change in reputation as part of their advertising, with the slogan: "It is a Škoda, honest." 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 are too good to be Škodas.

Škoda now has various manufacturing and assembly plants including one in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Skoda also has an assembly plant in the city of Aurangabad in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

Škoda is a participant in the World Rally Championship with Škoda Fabia WRC until 2005. The 2006 season saw Skoda represented by a private team.

Skoda Fabia Sedan concept (2000)

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