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History of Skoda

Skoda has had its hand in the transport game for over 100 years. Until quite recently Skoda was the bane of many awful jokes regarding performance and reliability. Over recent years it has rightfully earned back our respect by producing some fantastic vehicles. In fact it has been ranked far above the most popular manufacturers for categories including customer satisfaction, quality, value and even driving experience. So it seems Skoda well and truly had the last laugh. Continue reading for an overview of the interesting history behind this current market leader.

Bicycles and Motorcycles (1895 to 1905)

Believe it or not the original founders of the company actually started with push bikes! Casting way back to 1895 Czechoslovakia, two avid cyclists Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement began developing their own bikes for production. The company was patriotically named Slavia and their bikes were selling so well they decided to progress into using engines. Motorcycle production began in 1899 under the name Laurin & Klement Co. After many a racing victory and a variety of motorbikes produced they decide to turn their hands to in car production around 1905.

Cars, Planes Engines and Agriculture (1905-1933)

Their first car, the Voiturette A, was massively successful and still remains a classic of Czech car history. Laurin & Klement Co was established within the market but began involvement with war efforts during 1914. However, by this time life was hard in Czechoslovakia, so the two decided to find a suitable partner who could help their company flourish. By now they had already begun producing agricultural equipment, motorised ploughs, plane engines, trucks and buses. So it was in 1925 they officially joined forces with Pizen Skodovka Co and finally formed Skoda.

The “Type A” Skoda (1933-1939)

During this period Skoda experienced some difficulties. Fortunately they had a breakthrough with the creation of the Type A Skoda Popular. It soon became a living legend of the decade. One variant became a solid choice for a reliable service vehicle, used for delivery vans and public service vehicles through the country. Whereas the roadster version was a popular choice especially after it performance the Monte Carlo rally 1936.

WW2 and Birth of the Octavia (1939-1960)

From the beginning in 1939 until the end in 1945 the Germans were occupying Czechoslovakia, drastically affecting Skoda. Their car production was shuttled solely towards the German’s war efforts and not much progress could be made during this time.

With the war over and the Germans out Skoda could breathe once again. The company expanded to become a national enterprise, dominating the car production industry in Czechoslovakia. The company was successful in exports around the world and iconic cars were developed such as the Skoda 1200. Another example, the Skoda 440, was first produced in 1959 and eventually evolved to be the company’s first Octavia.

Refinement with Limited Production (1960-1989)

By 1960 the company was struggling to grow any further, especially against the western technological advances. Nonetheless, Skoda still continued to work on improving their range with models such as the Rapid, Felicia and Octavia. Production began to pick up again following the introduction of the Favorit model in 1987.

The Journey to Driving Perfection (1990 and Beyond)

Market conditions became stirred up as the Berlin Wall was torn down and political changes took place in 1989. To ensure Skoda could continue to compete within the international market it was decided that they would need to forge a strong alliance with a successful foreign manufacturer.

By the end of 1990 Volkswagen was chosen and their partnership began in the New Year. The Volkswagen group expanded to accommodate Skoda along with its existing brands Seat and Audi. Through this mutually beneficial arrangement Skoda has truly flourished allowing it to become the triumph it is today.

Offbeat  12/12/2014 10:38:39

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