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The Audi automobile factory in Zwickau was founded in 1910 by August Horch. After the closure of the motor vehicle manufacturer A. Horch & Cie. Zwickau the businessman Horch searched for an alternative name in order to re-establish the The Czech automobile manufacturer is one of the first ever. Founded as Laurin & Klement in 1895, the company began with the production of bicycles.
The distribution of the so-called Slavia bicycles gradually transformed into the development of motorcycles, which at the time were the only and therefore the most successful in Austria-Hungary. Automobiles have been produced since 1905. Nine models were developed out of the first prototype called Voiturette.
With entering the stock exchange, the transformation into a stock corporation in 1912 and the takeover of the factory RAF in Liberec (Reichenberg) the product range could expand a little later. A considerable part had already been moved to other European countries, but also to Rio de Janeiro, Japan or New Zealand.
In the First World War the production was almost halted, except for the production of military vehicles and ambulances. Also the re-start in the newly founded Czechoslovakia wasn’t easy matter: Both the tax policy, partly responsible for the lower demand as well as the simultaneous incipient competition resulted in 1925 in the sale of the factories to the Škoda engineering company from Pilsen.
While founder Klement backed down and focused on writing and research activities in the field of automotive engineering, the cars were produced under the Škoda name now. A brief time of the new upturn followed - the newly founded company developed new, until today known and extended models, such as the Rapid, Favorit, Superb and Popular and in the year 1936 became the market leader in Czechoslovakia.
From 1939 onwards, the Škoda workshops were integrated into the German armaments industry and the Hermann Göring AG, respectively for the production of war vehicles.
After the Second World War the enterprise resumed in 1945. The nationalization and the guidelines of the socialist plan economy were accompanied with the production of economical small cars, based on the prewar model Popular.
The Škoda 440 from 1955 on, as well as the 1000 MB starting from 1964, mobilized almost the entire country - the first was favorable in production, the second was also used in the racing sport. Other middle-class models, powered by rear-wheel drive and propulsion, such as 110 R, Garde, Rapid, also roamed the streets.
Škoda also covered 10 percent of the total passenger car stock in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Despite slow development processes Škoda has always defended its exposed position in international motorsports.
From the beginning the development of the company was connected with its involvement in sports activities. Laurin & Klement started at their time with the successful participation in motorcycle races from 1901 to 1905. The L&K Racing machine (“L&K-Rennmaschine“) was the first series-produced two-cylinder motorcycle of Europe. Between 1935 and 1937 the company - meanwhile Škoda - entered the Monte Carlo rally with a modified model of the Popular in combination with the four-cylinder engine of the Rapids and won silver.
Already in 1950 a two-seater took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the modification of this model, the 1101, the Grand Prix of Brno was won.
The Oktavia in 1961 succeeded in its class at the rally in Monte Carlo, whereupon the demand on the market increased. Other sporting successes, such as that in Monte Carlo in 1977 or the victory in the European Touring Car Championship (FIA ETCC) in 1981, ensured that Škoda could compete in the field of sports.
With the fall of the Soviet Union came the political turnaround, which meant a takeover by Volkswagen AG for Škoda. A new era for the company was launched. The model Favorit, which was already reissued in 1987, could now be further developed. The car, which was offered both in the West and East, thus became a real reunion model.
Establishment in the market and one of the favorites on the street
In 1994 Felicia was the successor of the Favorit. Within seven years, more than 910,000 copies were built. Finally, new models such as the Fabia small car and the compact or medium class Oktavia made it possible to completely break away from the image of the Eastern bloc and secure a considerable position on the market.
Gradually the company succeeded to maintain as an independent, solid and favorable brand. From the smallest car, the Citigo to the legendary middle class Superb, as well as the Minivan Roomster and the SUV Yeti, the product range offers suitable vehicles for everyone. Škoda is now present in more than 100 countries and celebrated its record year in 2014: more than one million cars were sold.