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History of Skoda

Once the laughing stock of the motor industry, Skoda has transformed its reputation since the turn of the 21st century. Where the Skoda badge used to mean unreliability, poor quality, and overall badness, today Skodas cars such as the Octavia and Yeti are often voted best in class. It’s been an incredible turnaround for the Czech motor company, becoming one of motoring’s great comeback stories.

Laurin & Klement

Like many car manufacturers, Skoda started life manufacturing bicycles. Under the name of its founders, Laurin & Klement started after they found it difficult getting spare parts for their motorbikes. First formed in 1894, the company joined the burgeoning automobile trade.


Following World War One, the company was bought by a large arms manufacturer known as the Skoda Works. Wanting to diversify away from just military products, they bought Laurin & Klement to help expand its production capabilities.

Post-war blues

The end of World War Two saw Europe divided into two. Despite communist rule, Skoda initially had a good reputation for producing quality vehicles. But reliability issues and expensive running costs meant that Skoda’s reputation took a nosedive. By the 1990s, Skoda was practically a laughing stock in the motor industry.


With the fall of communism, Skoda soon became privatised. Seeking a strong partner, Volkswagen was brought on-board to help turn the fortunes of the company around, beating off a rival bid by Renault. VW ownership saw Skoda start to turn its reputation around. The first step was to improve the quality of the vehicles. Using VW parts and engines, Skoda’s cars became more reliable, better quality, and cheaper to run.

The improvement in quality was reflected in an advertising campaign that did not shy away from the brand’s previous poor reputation. Now, cars like the Fabia, Octavia and Yeti are seen as being among the best on the market. A far cry from the creaky, communist era vehicles that used to bear the badge. 

published: 18/04/2017 10:09:53

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