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(established 1895)

The roots of this famous Czech automobile manufacturer lay in the bicycle manufacturing business established by Vaclav Klement and Vaclav Laurin in Mlada Boleslav near Prague. Within four years the company began the manufacture of motorcycles, moving into motor car production with the Voiturette A in 1905. In 1925 Klement and Laurin merged with the Skoda Company, a manufacturer of engines and industrial products, and soon established a reputation for the manufacture of luxury limousines such as the 1929 Skoda 860 and the technologically sophisticated Superb designed in 1934 and in production until 1949. During the Second World War Skoda centred its activities on the production of military transport and, in 1946, was nationalized and given a monopoly on passenger car production including the 1946 Tudor range. In the 1950s and 1960s the company manufactured a number of celebrated models such as the Spartak and the Estelle, followed by a period of difficulty in the face of stiff European competition until the introduction of the Favorit in 1988. With the softening of relations with the West, and the corporate goal of developing new markets, the company became a member of the Volkswagen group (incorporating Audi and SEAT) in 1991. The Felicia was launched in 1994 followed by the Octavia, produced in a new assembly plant in 1996. A new Design Centre was established in Mlada Boleslav in 1999 and the image of Skoda, previously often seen as a manufacturer of cheap, fairly basic models, was altered with the launch of the award‐winning Fabia in the UK in 2000. This was followed by the launch of a more luxurious version of the Octavia in 2001 and another new model, the Superb (named after its successful 1930s predecessor), characterized by a spacious interior, comfort, and technological sophistication.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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