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Skoda's Australian Launch Confirmed for 2007


by Stephen Walker


16th March, 2007

Skoda Roomster

Skoda will return to the Australian new car market later this year!

Regular readers will be aware of Skoda's international success over recent years with numerous articles published by the Next Car team. In recognition of that international sales success, the Volkswagen owned brand has identified Australia's buoyant new car market as another potential success story in the waiting. With the light car and small car segments booming in Australia it was only ever a matter of time before Volkswagen Group Australia identified it's Czech brand as a favourable proposition for Australia.

Models chosen for a 2007 release in Australia are the trendy Roomster (shown above) and the popular Octavia sedan and wagon (shown below in the sporty vRS edition).

Skoda Octavia

Skodas have been sold in Australia during at least two periods in the past. During the early-to-mid 1960s, the Octavia gained a solid reputation as a tough-as-nails car. As tough as the iron curtain itself, some would say (with a great deal of affection). It was a 4-cylinder mid-size 2-door sedan. Then again in the mid-1970s through early-1980s Škoda had an Australian presence with the rear-engined 110 and variants. This car was somewhat of an orphan on the Australian new car market. It was a car which inspired enjoyment or annoyance.

It has been many years since I have observed a 110. The Octavia, though, is still seen from time to time by the keen car spotter.

The history of Skoda (the company) is a quite an interesting one.

Towards the end of 1895, two enthusiast bikers, Václav Laurin (a mechanic) and Václav Klement (a bookkeeper) begin making their own bicycles, naming them – proudly and patriotically – Slavia.

The business developed very well for them. By 1899, Laurin & Klement Co. began to manufacture motor cycles.

At the turn of the century, the company began setting itself up for the manufacture of cars.

Volkswagen Australia executives: 
(left) Jutta Dierks (Managing Director) 
and (right) Matthew Wiesner (General Manager, Press and Public Relations)

During the early decades of the 20th century, the company continued to expand and, in time, began making trucks, buses, aviation engines and agricultural machines, in addition to cars. In 1925, L & K Co merged with the country’s largest industrial  enterprise, Škoda Pilsen. This is the end of Laurin & Klement and the beginning of Škoda as a brand name. The result is assemply-line production of elegant cars, adorned with many fine details and winning numerous international competitions.

But now, in 2007, Škoda is selling cars in over 90 countries, with production plants in 5 countries (Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine) and employing more than 27,000 people. Statistics indicate in 2006 Škoda sold a record 549,667 vehicles. This was an increase of over 11% on the previous year. The Octavia was the best selling model for Skoda, with worldwide sales of 270,274 in 2006, outselling the fabulous little Fabia with 243,982 sales. Germany is Skoda's largest market with 118,527 units sold during 2006.

Volkswagen's involvement began in 1991 with the acquisition of 30% of the shares of the newly established joint-venture company. Later, Volkswagen AG increased its share to 70% and in 2000, bought the remaining shares to assume 100% ownership. Thus began a new era for the century old operation.

Heading Skoda's Australian operation will be Matthew Wiesner, currently an executive with Volkswagen Group Australia. Pictured above is Matthew Wiesner (currently General Manager, Press and Public Relations - Volkswagen Group Australia) together with Jutta Dierks (Managing Director - Volkswagen Group Australia).

2007 Skoda Fabia

The newest Skoda is the Fabia, which made its debut at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show earlier this month. The Fabia (shown at right) has been quite a success for Skoda. Since the first generation model was introduced in 2000, over 1.5 million units have been sold worldwide. The second generation light car from Skoda is predicted to continue the success of the earlier edition.

But will this new model be included in the model mix for Australia? Currently, the suggestion is no. However, the decision to exclude it is likely to be reviewed again at some point when Skoda's recent international success is repeated here, in Australia.

And success for Skoda is bound to be the Australian reaction to the re-introduction of the brand. With desirable products, competitive pricing and the resources of Volkswagen behind it, success in Australia is just around the corner for the famous Czech brand .... just as it is elsewhere in the world!

Other Skoda content: here.

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