Škoda Auto: From Bicycles to a Global Manufacturer of Motor Vehicles
Today, Škoda Auto a.s. is not only the biggest Czech motor vehicle manufacturer, but also the largest Czech exporter and one of the biggest Czech employers. Today, you can purchase Škoda cars not only in Europe, but also in Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. With its manufacturing tradition that spans more than 120 years, it ranks among the oldest motor vehicle brands in the world. And two cyclists Václav Laurin and Václav Klement were at the beginning of everything.

Bicycles, motorcycles and motor vehicles

The writing of the very long tradition of the biggest Czech car manufacturer starts on Tuesday, 17 December 1895, when two enthusiast cyclists, the mechanic Václav Laurin and bookseller Václav Klement, establish a small bicycle making factory in Mladá Boleslav. They call it Laurin & Klement and already four years later, they start making motorcycles here, thus becoming the first motorcycle factory in all-Austria-Hungary and Germany. In 1905, the production of the first motor car model, the Voiturette A, which becomes a sales success, starts here and catapults the factory to the apex of the automotive industry. After the first world war, the imaginary label “made in Laurin & Klement” can not only boast about its cars, but also trucks as well as, for instance, aircraft engines.

Emil Škoda at the wheel

In 1925, the established company was entered by a strong investment partner, the Škoda Engineering Concern of Plzeň. Both founders sell their interests and are replaced at the “corporate wheel” by Emil Škoda. Thanks to Škoda’s money, the Mladá Boleslav factory undergoes reconstruction and line production is also introduced here. Within a few years, the motor vehicle manufacturer rose to first place in terms of sales and, at the end of 1936, Škoda was a modern motor vehicle manufacturer, which manufactured cars, trucks, buses and trolleybuses. After the war, the Škoda engineering empire was nationalised and subsequently broken down into individual components. Today’s giants Škoda Transportation, which is still based in Plzeň, and Škoda Auto, which is based in Mladá Boleslav approx. 50 kilometres north-east of Prague, were created upon division from the Škoda factory.

History with the smell of petrol

In April 1991 Škoda experiences a major merger – this time with the German giant Volkswagen. Three years later the motor vehicle manufacturer celebrated the manufacture of the millionth motor vehicle. The former manufacturing halls in Mladá Boleslav, where motor vehicles were made until 1928 are currently the seat of the Škoda Auto Museum. It maps the entire story of the brand, the history of the motor vehicle manufacturer, and you can further see unique historical vehicles here. The museum is open all-year-round and daily and offers foreign language tours with a guide, which must however be ordered in advance. Another experience can be had in tours of the production plants, where you can see the creation of the motor vehicle in various stages of the production process. However, these are only possible on working days from Monday to Friday.