Skoda is the well-known brand from the Czech Republic. Part of the Volkswagen Group since 1990, Skoda is today one of the best-selling brands in Europe.
It has a history of over 100 years old, the company being founded in 1895. The headquarter is the city of Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Republic.
In December 1895, keen cyclists Vaclav Laurin (a mechanic) and Vaclav Klement (a bookseller) started designing and manufacturing bicycles. At that time, most Czechs were fervently patriotic, so they called their first company Slavia.
Their bicycles sold well, so Laurin and Klement decided to take the next step – and add motors. They started making motorbikes in 1899, changed the name of their company to the Laurin & Klement Co and chalked up several racing victories. While making nearly 4,000 motorbikes of various types, they started experimenting with a new phenomenon – the car - which began to gradually replace motorbikes from 1905 on.
The first car was the Voiturette A came in 1905 and soon became a classic in Czech motoring history.
When the war began in 1914, it started manufacturing for the armed forces too. Because of the economic conditions in Czechoslovakia at the time, Laurin and Klement needed a strong industrial partner to strengthen and modernize their company. They were now not only producing a range of cars but also trucks, buses, airplane engines and agricultural machinery, such as motorized plows.
They merged with Pizen Skodovka Co in 1925 and became Skoda.
In the early 30s, Skoda had some difficult times. They made a breakthrough with the Type A Skoda Popular, which was to become a legend in the second half of the decade. Weighing only 650kg the Skoda 420 Popular could reach 80km/h. At one end of the scale, Populars served as reliable utility vehicles, such as ambulances and delivery vans.
After the war, as part of large-scale nationalization in Czechoslovakia, the company became a national enterprise and took over all passenger car production. Skoda Tudor was a popular model, and it was the time of the Skoda 1200 model that remained in production until 1973.
During the communist times, Skoda had a long range of models exported all over Eastern Europe, but also in other parts of the world: Octavia, Felicia, the MB range and the Rapid.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Skoda became interesting for the western companies, and in 1990 Skoda became the fourth brand in the Volkswagen Group.