The History of Skoda

Not many car companies have had a history as complicated as that of Czech manufacturer Skoda. Swinging from the lowest rungs of the industry back to the highest regards, Skoda has lived quite the interesting century. Let’s look at what took this company from its humble beginnings to the globally-known manufacturer it is today.

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Cars for all kinds

Once a scarcely known and underestimated presence in the automobile world, Skoda is now a force to be reckoned with, as it is has come to be regarded as one of the most dependable and efficient auto manufacturers producing today. Models like the Octavia, Rapid, Fabia, or Citigo are now household names, seen often on the streets of European cities and praised for their dependability. The story of Skoda is one that took a number of dramatic turns, and was often submitted to the political whims that mirror the turbulent history of the Czech Republic in the 21st century.

A nasty letter 

The beginning of the Skoda story is actually quite the interesting tale. The company, first known as “Laurin and Klement,” was founded by Czech bookseller Václav Klement. Klement, who was in the curious position of needing to find replacement parts for his bicycle, decided to write a letter to the German manufacturer in his native language, Czech. The company sent a brief and unhelpful response stating simple that “you should try writing in a language we can understand.” Instead of trying again, the ingenious bookseller realized that there was a golden opportunity for missed customers, and opened his very own bicycle repair shop.

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The company was off to a running start, and bicycle parts led to experimentation with motorcycles, and by 1905, automobiles. In, they were bought by the arms manufacturer Skoda, resuming production of cars and trucks using this name. Things became complicated during the Second World War, when the German forces occupying Czechoslovakia used the Skoda infrastructure as part of the war effort. In fact, the Skoda factories were almost completely annihilated in 1945 when they were target by an Allied air raid.

From zero to hero 

After the drama of the war, the curious history of Skoda hadn’t stopped its strange narrative. The Skoda works were rebuilt, and they were integrated into the planned economy and manufacturing system of the U.S.S.R. This is when the company’s previously-robust reputation was damaged by repeatedly conservative models and unreliable cars. Things were to change dramatically in 1991, when prestigious manufacturer Volkswagen bought a stake in company and began to revitalize the brand.

The changes were felt quickly, and the re-designed 1994 model Felicia was well-received across the globe. Over the last few decades, affordable, efficient models like the Octavia and Fabia have led to Skoda reclaiming its place among the most respected automobile manufacturers in Europe. In fact, in 2015, Skoda was chosen in a poll as the most dependable car brand in the United Kingdom. Not too shabby for a company that had to navigate some of the more significant perils of the 21st century.

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