6.5 Colour Touchscreen Drive Infotainment System
Quartz-cut Projector Headlights with Jewel-shadow LED Day Running lights
In the beginning of December 1895, the mechanic Václav Laurin and the bookseller Václav Klement, both bicycle enthusiasts, started manufacturing bicycles of their own design, patriotically named Slavia in the nationalist atmosphere at the end of the 19th century. A few years later, in 1899, the Laurin and Klement Co. began producing motorcycles, which were soon successful and gained several racing victories. After initial experiments at the turn of the century, the production of motorcycles was gradually replaced by automobiles from 1905 onwards.
Like the motorcycles, the first Laurin and Klement automobile, the Voiturette A, was a huge success, later becoming the archetype of the Czech automobile maker. It soon formed a stable position for the company in the developing international automobile market, so that the Company could start operating on a wide scale. The volume of the production increased and soon exceeded the potential of a private enterprise, and in 1907 the founders of the company initiated conversion to a joint-stock company. The international character of ŠKODA's operations became increasingly important. The production facilities were extended constantly and after 1914, ŠKODA took part in the production for the armed forces.
Due to the country's economic development, a joint venture with a strong industrial partner became essential in the 1920s in order to strengthen and modernise the Company, which was at that time producing numerous types of passenger cars, trucks, buses, airplane engines and agricultural machinery. In 1925, fusion with the Pilsen ŠKODA Co. was accomplished, marking the end of the Laurin and Klement trademark. In early 1930s, the automotive business was again organised as a separate joint-stock company within the ŠKODA Group (Automobile Industry Co., ASAP). After the crisis, the company achieved a breakthrough with the Type ŠKODA Popular.
The German occupation in 1939 to 1945 caused a considerable disruption in the history of the company, which was integrated into the industrial structure of the German Empire. The civilian production-programme was immediately limited and production was turned to its needs. In the course of a large-scale nationalisation, which began immediately after the end of the war, the Company became a national enterprise named AZNP in 1946. Within the political and economic changes of that time, it acquired the monopoly of passenger car production.
Based on the traditional production processes and past success, the Czechoslovak economy managed to maintain a relatively good standard in the post/socialist period for several decades, despite the changes brought about by planned economy and unduly rapid growth. This standard only became questionable towards the end of the 1960s due to development of new technology in the western world. The permanent stagnation of the economy started after the 70s, also affecting the Mlada Boleslav automobile manufacturer in spite of the company's leading position in the East Europe market. Production grew again only when the model range ŠKODA Favorit went into production in 1987.
After the political changes of 1989, under the new market economy conditions, the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic and the management of ŠKODA began to search for a strong foreign partner whose experience and investments would be capable of securing the long-range international competitiveness of the company. In December 1990, the government decided on cooperation with the German Volkswagen Group. The ŠKODA - Volkswagen joint venture began to operate on 16 April, 1991 under the name ŠKODA, automobilová a.s., becoming the fourth brand of the Volkswagen Group alongside VW, AUDI & SEAT.