Václav Laurin and Václav Klement founded the company that would become ŠKODA AUTO in December 1895. The two men founded a workshop for the repair and manufacture of bicycles in Mladá Boleslav they turned to motorbikes from 1899 and finally cars from 1905.
The founders were united by their passion for cycling and wanted to offer their customers affordable bicycles built from the best materials available. Initially three people were employed in their small workshop to make bicycles, one year later, 21 employees were making five different models of bikes, which bore the name SLAVIA.
In 1899 they presented the first two L&K motorbikes: The SLAVIA A and B models. To make the bikes easier to operate and more stable, the engine was installed in the lower area of the frame. This positioning later became the international standard and is considered a great achievement of engineer Václav Laurin.
Václav Klement succeeded in winning large orders both on the domestic market and in industrialised countries such as Germany and Great Britain. The motor racing debut at the Paris-Berlin race in 1901 – when Narcis Podsedníček came in first by a wide margin after 1,196km – earned the company legendary status. The highlight of the motorbike era was the victory of an L&K CCR in the unofficial motorbike world championship in Dourdan near Paris on 25 June 1905.
In 1905 the company presented its first automobile: the Laurin & Klement Voiturette A. It had a one-litre, two-cylinder engine and travelled at speeds of up to 40kmh. Less than a year after entering the automobile manufacturing business, the range included a wide variety of two- and four-cylinder models. The first eight-cylinder vehicle manufactured in Europe, the Type FF was introduced in 1907. The company rose to become the largest automobile manufacturer in Austria-Hungary, exporting to several dozen markets on all continents.
Three decades later, Laurin and Klement merged with the Pilsen-based engineering group Škoda. From then on, the winged arrow in the brand logo became a symbol of speed and progress. ŠKODA AUTO soon converted its facility in Mladá Boleslav toassembly line production.
After the Second World War, the company was nationalised. The production was expanded at the plants in Kvasiny and Vrchlabí, and the company continued to develop new models independently. The first Octavia and the Felicia were made in 1959 and in 1964 the rear-engined ŠKODA 1000 MB saloon was produced. The ŠKODA 130 RS, derived from the ŠKODA 110 R sports coupé, became one of the most successful racing and rally cars in its category from 1975 onwards, receiving the nickname “Porsche of the East”.
Volkswagen acquired ŠKODA AUTO in April 1991 and ŠKODA became the fourth brand to join the Group.
With the plug-in hybrid model Superb iV and the all-electric Citigoe iV, ŠKODA entered the age of electromobility in 2019. The 2020 premiere of the first ŠKODA model Enyaq iV based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform marks another milestone. The Enyaq iV is now the tenth model series in the brand’s range. In addition to its three Czech plants, ŠKODA AUTO also produces in China, Russia, India, Slovakia and Ukraine and is active in more than 100 markets worldwide.