THE foundations of an undoubted success story were laid 25 years ago when the partnership between the Volkswagen Group and the Czech car maker began, on 16th April 1991.
From that point on, the traditional Czech brand evolved from being a regional market leader to an internationally successful vehicle manufacturer.
In the presence of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller and Jaroslav Povšík, head of the KOVO MB trade union, ŠKODA CEO Bernhard Maier commemorated this milestone in the company’s 121-year history.
“ŠKODA is one of the longest-established car makers in the world that has been writing an exemplary success story over the past quarter century thanks to a strong team,” said Maier, adding: “What began as a one-series producer with annual sales of 170,000 in the early 90s has since evolved into an internationally competitive car company with six model lines and over 40 versions.
“Nowadays, ŠKODA produces over one million cars per year at 14 production sites on two continents, selling products in over 100 markets. The good partnership between ŠKODA and Volkswagen and a competent and highly motivated workforce have paved the way for this exemplary development.”
Prime Minister Sobotka said: “ŠKODA AUTO has become one of the drivers of the Czech economy over the past 25 years. The government recently supported the expansion of the Solnice-Kvasiny industrial zone in the Hradec Králové region.
“ŠKODA AUTO will be investing 7.2 billion crowns into the location and creating more than 2000 new jobs by 2018. This investment also underlines the fact that ŠKODA AUTO is one of the most important investors and employers in the Czech Republic.”
By 1990 several car manufacturers from Western Europe and overseas had expressed their interest in the brand, which was founded in 1895.
The Czech government ultimately decided in favour of merging ŠKODA with Volkswagen. On 28 March 1991, Czech Industry Minister Jan Vrba and Dr. Carl Hahn as CEO of Volkswagen signed the agreement on the inclusion of the then ‘ŠKODA automobilová akciová společnost’ in the Volkswagen Group.
On April 16, 1991, the document came into force. As a result, the Group gradually increased its share before becoming the sole owner of the joint stock company ŠKODA AUTO on 30 May, 2000.
“ŠKODA and Volkswagen represent a European success story. 25 years ago, ŠKODA was a company with a long tradition and great potential. Today, ŠKODA is the Czech Republic’s leading exporter, and one of the most dynamic automotive brands in the world,” said Volkswagen Group CEO, Matthias Müller.
“Digitisation and electromobility are presenting our industry with considerable challenges, but above all, they offer great opportunities. As part of the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA has all the prerequisites to cope with change, in terms of their customers, employees and manufacturing locations.
“This will involve not only redefining the car, but also our company to a large extent. And we will be doing that together.”
A comprehensive coordinated investment programme has fuelled the ŠKODA brand’s development. Between 1991 and March 2016, more than 300 billion crowns (around €11 billion) were invested in new models, research and development, and in expanding production capacities. With approximately 28,500 employees today, ŠKODA is one of the largest employers in the Czech Republic. The production network, including ŠKODA’s three Czech sites in Mladá Boleslav, Kvasiny and Vrchlabí, has grown in capacity thanks to Volkswagen Group affiliations in China, India, Russia and Slovakia, in addition to the assembly plants in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
ŠKODA is now one of the fundamental pillars of the Czech economy: In 2015 the manufacturer contributed around 4.5 per cent of the Czech gross domestic product, accounting for around eight per cent of Czech exports. The brand consistently sets new sales records: In 2015 deliveries increased by 1.8 per cent to 1,055,500 vehicles. By the end of March 2016, ŠKODA’s global sales had climbed by 4.3 per cent to 276,600 vehicles, thereby reaching a new record for the first three months of a year.
The upcoming SUV campaign is expected to drive growth further. The ŠKODA VisionS show car displayed at the Geneva Motor Show gave us a glimpse into ŠKODA’s new design language and the corresponding series-produced model will be celebrating its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in September.