Volks Affair are Melbourne’s independent service and repair centre for prestige German cars. We specialise in the Volkswagen Group fleet: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and, of course, Volkswagen. But did you know that there was another car brand operating under the Volkswagen Group’s umbrella? One that isn’t a German car at all?
This week, the team discuss the history of Škoda Auto, Volkswagen Group’s Czech car brand.
19th Century Bohemian Bike Sellers
Škoda is one of Europe’s oldest ongoing automobile manufacturers. Established in 1895, the company was started by a bookseller and a bicycle maker living in what was then Bohemia, a region of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Klement, a bookseller, had bought a bike and wanted it repaired. The manufacturer from whom Klement had bought his bike lived in Germany and didn’t like the fact that Klement was an Austrian-Hungarian. He refused to fix Klement’s bike. So Klement went into business for himself, teaming up with a bike maker, Laurin, from the next town over. They became Laurin & Klement: bicycle makers and repairers for Bohemians.
Four years later, Laurin & Klement had made Slavia, the first motorcycle in Central Europe. And six years after that, in 1905, the company started making cars.
Laurin & Klement’s first automobile was the Voiturette A.
War and the Eastern Bloc
A lot happened for our bikemakers over the next twenty years: the Austrian-Hungarian Empire fell and despite not moving, the two found themselves living in a whole new country: Czechoslovakia. Their enterprise grew and Laurin & Klement were now exporting vehicles internationally, making trucks, and supporting a staff of over 4,000.
In 1925, the largest company in Czechoslovakia, and one of the largest in Europe, arms manufacturers, Škoda, bought Laurin & Klement and continued building automobiles for non-military purposes.
After World War II, Czechoslovakia was in the Eastern Bloc. It was a communist country. One of the oldest car manufacturers, Škoda Auto was now run by the state. It, like Volkswagen in Germany, was to make affordable cars for the workers.
Škoda remained state-owned until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Era. In 1991, Volkswagen Group bought a 30% share in the newly public company. Volkswagen Group continued to buy up Škoda shares until they became sole owners in 2000.
The Volkswagen Group improved the Škoda models with its cutting-edge technology, higher quality materials and modern designs. These technical improvements, coupled with a clever marketing campaign, changed Škoda from being a Central European everyman’s car into the prestige vehicle it is today. Škoda is now internationally-renowned, and is growing rapidly all over the world. In fact, in 2016, a British survey ranked Škoda the most reliable car in the UK.
Škoda in Australia 2017
Today, on the other side of the world, Škoda is one of the fastest growing car brands. This year, Skoda has outsold Peugeot, Mini, Volvo and Fiat in Australia. Their sales numbers rival Jeep.
Although small compared to the other Volkswagen Group brands, Škoda sales have grown 10.7% in 2017 over all. Fabia is their top performer, with a 39% growth reported from January to August, making up 738 of their 3,013 units sold in the first eight months of the year.
Škoda at Volks Affair
As an independent service and repairs centre specialising in Volkswagen Group vehicles, we are proud to say that we service Melbourne’s Škoda fleet. Using Volkswagen Group’s technology, Škoda are a reliable, strong car, with a five-year, unlimited-km warranty. We have over 20 years’ experience offering quality, accountable Škoda services using only approved parts and high-quality oils.
So if you are one of Melbourne’s lucky Škoda-owners, make sure you have your vehicle serviced regularly at Volks Affair. Even the most reliable cars need to be serviced annually to keep them running smoothly and safely, and to protect their resale value. So book in your Škoda today for a full service, quote or repair.
While you’re here, why not read up on some more car history, including the time Australia made its own Volkswagens? For everything Volkswagen Group, from service and repair to a weekly blog, visit Volks Affair!