Functioning for a total of 125 years now, since its inception in 1895, Škoda has presented a plethora of advanced vehicles that constantly push the boundaries of automotive know-how. Celebrating its 125th anniversary in the year of 2020, Škoda looks back at its early days and models that shaped the future of this global brand.
Starting out as a manufacturer of bicycles in 1895, the Slavia brand used it Laurin & Klement factory located in Mladá Boleslav for all production. Four years later, Václav Laurin and Václav Klement expanded their business horizon and started working on creating single-cylinder petrol engine motorbikes. The huge success and popularity of their new product ushered in the era of automobile accomplishments for the company.
Ten years from its establishment, L&K had already rolled off its first ever automobile prototype the ‘Voiturette A’, introduced in the ‘Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung’ magazine’s October 1905 issue. Presented as a ‘light weight compact automobile’, Voiturette would go on to lay the groundwork for Škoda’s 115 years of automobile production at Mladá Boleslav. Its next appearance was on the ‘Sport a hry’ December, 1905 issue where its production model was announced to be ‘The Democratic Automobile’ by Editor Vilém Heinz.
An ‘economical and suitable to everyday use’ vehicle, the Voiturette soon became a customer favourite after it gained official permission to be driven on public roads. Its V2 engine gave a total of 7 hp and kept the vehicle in the 5 to 45 km/h speed range, as was decided by the Austrian Automobile Regulations. Its light weight reputation came from its weight being no more than 500 kg. Coming in three vibrant colour options of red, green and blue; it also offered French markets a grey shade and an additional cost of 50 crowns gave the choice of white paint as well.
Today, only five models of this vehicle exist all around the world, one of which has been safely kept at its home in Mladá Boleslav. L&K’s pioneering model set into motion a series of events which not only led to huge commercial successes but also the production of a number of new models- ranging from two-cylinder vehicles to racing cars. After World War One, it went on to become the largest auto manufacturer in Austria-Hungary.
In 1925, Škoda’s partnership made the Mladá Boleslav cars a part of its own line-up. In the following years, need for efficient production and inventive designing helped it reclaim its position as the leader of Czech automobile industry with models bearing the name ‘Škoda’. Following the event of World War Two, the company, now called AZNP, still thrived and created landmark vehicles like Škoda 440 ‘Spartak’, Škoda 1000 MB and the classic Škoda Favorit.
After the taking over of Škoda Auto by Volkswagen Group in 1991, the brand has evolved to become a globally renowned car maker. Today, Škoda offers an extensive range of competitive vehicles and powertrain options. From the day of commencement of automotive operations with the Voiturette A in a small Mladá Boleslav plant till today- when the same plant produces its latest Enyaq iV model; Škoda has constantly grown to become a world-leading auto maker.
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