From the VOITURETTE A to the ENYAQ iV
In December, ŠKODA AUTO commemorates 115 years of car production in Mladá Boleslav
successful Czech company whose foundations were laid before the Christmas holidays in 1895 by Václav Klement and Václav Laurin, has experienced very dynamic development since the very beginning. Shortly after opening their bicycle repair shop, they began producing their own SLAVIA bicycles, and already on 18 November 1899, their wide product range expanded to include motorcycles of their original avant-garde concept with petrol single-cylinder engines mounted at the bottom of the frame. Soon, they were joined by some of the world’s first two-cylinder engine and inline four-cylinder engine motorcycles. The Laurin & Klement (L&K) vehicles were becoming more and more popular among their customers, and the number of significant sporting successes kept rising.
WAS USED FOR
The first car
The Czech Laurin & Klement brand celebrated the first decade of its existence in 1905 in great style. To free up production capacity for its motor vehicles, it ended its bicycle production while significantly expanding its workshop area: Its 355 employees and 206 machine tools already worked on 9,500 m2. However, the Laurin & Klement VOITURETTE A car was a game-changing novelty, the result of more than five years of development. The car’s main components were designed and produced at the company. Its arrival was first announced in an article by the Viennese Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung Weekly, which introduced the “voiturette” prototype (a French term for a lower-weight category car, literally a “trolley” – ed.).
In the 1905–1907 period, at least 44 Laurin & Klement VOITURETTE A cars were produced, of which probably only five original copies have been preserved. One of them is part of the permanent exhibition of the ŠKODA Museum.
Practical, comfortable and cheap
The editor of the Czech Sports and Games Weekly, Vilém Heinz, presented the L&K VOITURETTE A to the public in great detail on 27 December 1905. He dedicated the front page and an article entitled “Democratic Automobile” to the new car from Mladá Boleslav. “The Laurin & Klement VOITURETTE A does not have a shallow design. Its appearance is, in one word, cute, its lines are elegant (…). It is a perfect car with two seats (…)”, stated the author, who was well known at the time. According to Heinz, it is a “practical, comfortable, and cheap automobile”. The Laurin & Klement VOITURETTE A model was officially approved for traffic on 18 January 1906 and presented at the Prague Motor Show on 15 April. In addition to its advanced structure, quality workmanship and elegant design, it also excelled in practicality and thanks to its favourable price/performance ratio. Its basic version cost 3,600 kronen, at a time when the car factory worker’s average wage was 2 kronen a day. Gasoline, which was sold by the kilogram in Bohemia, cost 66 hellers – a little more than 1 litre of the famous Pilsner beer.
The ŠKODA brand owes its success to the ingenuity and enthusiasm of five generations of ŠKODA employees. Scan the QR code and open the Master Craftsmen attachment, which tracks the development of selected professions from the beginning to the present and shares interesting stories of both former and current employees.
The “trolley” laid a solid foundation for the Czech brand’s dynamic development. In the 1906–1914 period alone, the sales of Laurin & Klement cars increased more than twentyfold. The offer ranged from two-cylinder models to the FF type inline eight-cylinder (1907) and included countless personal and utility versions, as well as very successful racing specials. The L&K brand gradually developed into the biggest carmaker in Austria-Hungary, and already before the First World War, it successfully reached customers in dozens of markets on all inhabited continents. Since 1925, after the entry of a strong strategic partner, its products have borne the ŠKODA designation. Among other milestones in the company’s development, let us mention its transition from its relatively small product series to efficient assembly line production (1929). A significant step forward was also the brand-new generation of ŠKODA cars with their backbone chassis frame and independent wheel suspension (1934). The POPULAR, RAPID and SUPERB models returned the Mladá Boleslav brand to the No. 1 domestic car position in 1936.
Road to the future
After the Second World War and the company’s nationalisation, the carmaker operated as AZNP (Automotive Works, National Enterprise) from 1 January 1946. Its development continued even in the difficult economic and political conditions of socialism. Its major technological changes included the transition from bodies with wooden components to an all-metal design (1952), which paved the way for the carmaker for truly large-scale production. The famous era of its popular ŠKODA 440 SPARTAK, OCTAVIA and FELICIA cars is followed in 1964 with one of the most modern European one-litre class cars: the ŠKODA 1000 MB, with its self-supporting body and rear engine. The modern Mladá Boleslav factory’s production soon exceeded the magical limit of 100,000 cars produced annually. A major change came in 1987 when the Czech brand presented its timeless design FAVORIT car with its front engine and front-wheel drive.
IN THE NEW
ENYAQ iV, ALL
VALUES OF THE
From local to global
The carmaker became part of the multinational VW Group in 1991, and over the next three decades, it has grown from a local firm with an annual production of fewer than 200,000 cars of a single model line to a globally active company that 28 years later supplied its customers with 1.24 million cars. In 2020, when ŠKODA AUTO commemorated 125 years since the company’s founding and 115 years since the start of its passenger car production, it offers a full 10 model lines, including hybrid and purely electric vehicles. The new ŠKODA ENYAQ iV, which symbolises the carmaker’s electric future, represents the essence of all the brand’s values and combines all of its strengths, such as spirit, ingenuity, design skills, courage and creativity, along with its modern technologies. In November, the carmaker started production on the car in Mladá Boleslav, where not only its main production plant and development centre but also the company’s headquarters are located – just as in the era of the first Laurin & Klement VOITURETTE A automobile. ED
The present of ŠKODA AUTO
This year, it celebrates 125 years since its founding in 1895, making it one of the oldest active carmakers in the world.
In 2019, it delivered 1.24 million cars to its customers worldwide.
Since 1991, it has been part of the VW Group, one of the world’s most successful car manufacturers. In addition to cars, ŠKODA AUTO also independently manufactures and develops components, such as engines and gearboxes, within the Group.
It employs around 42,000 people worldwide and is active in more than 100 markets.
As part of its 2025 Strategy, it is undergoing a transformation from a carmaker to a “Simply Clever company offering the best mobility solutions”.
It offers its customers 10 model lines of passenger cars: CITIGOe iV, FABIA, RAPID, SCALA, OCTAVIA, SUPERB, KAMIQ, KAROQ, KODIAQ and ENYAQ iV.
It operates three production plants in the Czech Republic and produces in China, Russia, Slovakia and India, mostly through Group partnerships, as well as Ukraine in cooperation with local partners.
The sales of Laurin & Klement cars increase more than twentyfold, from at least 21 cars to 453 cars per year.
After the entry of a strong strategic partner, the production label bears the name ŠKODA and the world-famous logo with a winged arrow.
The company transitions from its relatively small product series to efficient assembly line production.
A completely new generation of avant-garde ŠKODA cars with a backbone frame chassis and independent wheel suspension marks a significant step forward.
The POPULAR, RAPID and SUPERB models return the Mladá Boleslav brand to the No. 1 domestic car position.
After the Second World War, the company is nationalised, known from 1 January as AZNP (Automotive Works, National Enterprise).
Major technological changes include the transition from bodies with wooden components to an all-metal design, paving the way for large-scale production
The production of the first generation of the OCTAVIA model and the FELICIA convertible derived from it, which are also successful in Western markets, is launched.
The ŠKODA 1000 MB, one of the most modern European one-litre class cars, follows the famous era of popular Czech cars.
Another turning point in the carmaker’s history is the launch of its FAVORIT model with front-wheel drive.
The carmaker becomes part of the multinational VW Group.
The FABIA, successor to the FELICIA model, has its world premiere.
The ŠKODA brand introduces the KODIAQ model and launches an extensive SUV offensive, which continues one year later with the introduction of the KAROQ.
At the world premiere, it presents its first purely electric series car CITIGOe iV and the fourth generation of its OCTAVIA model.
ŠKODA AUTO starts serial production of its ENYAQ iV electric car.