In the winter of 1895 two gentlemen, Laurin, a car mechanic, and Klement, a bookseller, began to manufacture bicycles, which they named Slavia. By 1899, Laurin and Klement Company's fame began to spread as they manufactured motorcycles, which brought numerous successes in international contests.
Today, this company is known as Skoda Auto and is renowned for its well-engineered cars. In 1989 in the new free market environment, Skoda Auto, which till then had been a Czech government-owned company, started looking for a strong foreign partner in order to survive in the extremely competitive global market.
In December 1990, the German Volkswagen group decided to take over Skoda Auto. On 16 April 1991, the Skoda Automobilova AS started its activity as the fourth branch of the VW group, together with VW, Audi and Seat.
Volkswagen's Czech subsidiary, Skoda Auto, entered the Indian automobile market in November 2001 by launching the Octavia, a mid-size car priced at Rs 10.6 lakh, (ex-showroom Delhi) available in both diesel and petrol versions with an import content of 100 per cent.
The Octavia is being imported to India as semi-knocked-down kits and assembled at the company's Aurangabad plant. The plant currently assembles 10 cars a day and operates on a single shift. The indigenisation level is planned to be around 10 per cent by 2002-end.
The company plans to start the next upgraded assembly line for assembling engines, gearboxes and axles for the Octavia in India, which will help to bring down the incidence of import duty to about 80 per cent from the current 122 per cent and consequently bring down Octavia prices substantially in India.
In spite of being somewhat highly priced, the Skoda has received a tremendous response in the Indian market. Hence Skoda Auto has plans to launch its three luxury cars Elegance, Laurin and Klement, and Superb in India in 2002-03.
Most likely the one to hit the market next will be the Elegance, a premium version of the Octavia, priced at Rs 12.5 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), and is likely to be launched by October 2002.
The Laurin and Klement Luxury Sedan will be launched after the Elegance and would be priced at Rs 14.5 to 15 lakh, while the third model, the Superb, to be introduced by 2002-end, would be the top-of-the line model priced at Rs 20-24 lakh. The Laurin and Klement will be positioned against existing cars like the Honda Accord and the Ford Mondeo, while the Superb will take on the Mercedes E class model.
Skoda is targeting a 17-18-per cent share of the combined C- and D-segment volume in India by 2003. In terms of volumes, this would entail total sales of 6,000 units out of a total 36,000-unit market size in course of the next calendar year. The company has also received governmental permission to bring in any of its parent company Volkswagen's models to India.
Skoda, which made an initial investment of $15 million in the Aurangabad facility, plans to invest $56 million more in due course of time.
Registered office and plant:
Skoda Auto India Pvt Ltd
E-76, MIDC Waluj,
Aurangabad - 431 136
Managing Director: Imran Haseen