Skoda is celebrating its 20th year of ownership by Volkswagen this week, two decades in which production has grown fourfold, making the takeover one of the most successful in recent automotive history.
“Twenty years ago, hardly anyone thought that the Czechs and Germans would co-operate so well,” said VW chairman Martin Winterkorn at an event in the Czech Republic to celebrate the 20th anniversary.
“But the Czechs have shown the will to construct great cars, VW has put its heart into this brand and Skoda has turned out to be a real play-maker.”
Last year Skoda built 762,000 cars — the first time it has broken through the three-quarter million barrier — which is a huge increase on the 190,000 it made in 1991 when VW took-over.
Longer term Skoda is eying 1.5 million units per year, with overseas manufacture at factories in India and China taking an increasing proportion of output.
Skoda boss Winfried Vahland was at pains to point out that production in the home market is still a priority for Skoda: ‘We need to reach new markets in order to achieve our objectives, but the Czech Republic will remain at the heart of our company.’
The passion that the Czech people and workforce have for Skoda was obvious at the 20th anniversary event at the factory in Mlada Boleslav, near Prague.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus and the speaker of the parliament Milan Stech both gave speeches, Milan’s particularly impressive because he was a union leader in the factory at the time.
“This was such an important step because it has helped us attract many major investments that contribute to our GDP, keep employment up and turn us into an automotive super power.”