About Škoda group History


Emil ŠkodaIn the year 1859, count Valdštejn-Vartenberk established a subsidiary of his foundry and engineering works. In 1866, ing. Emil Škoda, a highly competent engineering expert and dynamic entrepreneur, became the Chief Engineer of the factory which had more than a hundred employees, and in 1869 he purchased the factory. After a short time he expanded the factory and in the 1880s he founded steel works, which were very modern for his era and were able to deliver castings weighing tens of tons. Steel castings and later forged pieces for large passenger and military ships became, together with sugar refineries, important export articles of the Škoda factory.
In 1899 the ever expanding enterprise was transformed into a joint-stock company, and as early as before World War I, Škoda works became the largest arms factory in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy predominantly supplying heavy guns and ammunition to naval and land forces. Not only castings were exported, of which piping sections for the Niagara Falls power plant and for Suez Canal sluices is particularly worth mentioning, but also machinery for sugar refineries in Turkey, breweries throughout Europe and artillery materials for the Far East and South America. The war years between 1914 and 1918 caused a decline in peace production.

Considerable funds were invested in the construction of new production capacities. At that time Škoda works were controlling, through share majority, many companies producing more than armaments alone in both the Czech lands and abroad. By 1917 more than 35 thousand employees were working in Plzeň.

After establishing the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the company was transformed under the complicated conditions of post-war Europe from an exclusive armaments factory into a multi-industry concern. In addition to traditional industries, the production programme included many new ones, such as steam and later electric locomotives…

View of the Skoda factory in the late 19th century.

In 1923 the world renowned trade mark of a winged arrow in a circle was registered in the Commercial Register. During the middle of the 1930s the worsening political situation in Europe caused an increase in armaments production volume. The end of World War II brought considerable damage to the company as 70% of the factory grounds were practically destroyed after air raids and in 1945 the concern was nationalised. Individual departments of Škoda works were gradually excluded from the parent company including the car factory in Mladá Boleslav, aircraft factory in Prague, works in Slovakia and other factories producing food processing equipment. Production of machinery for heavy engineering, industrial capital construction, mass transport and power engineering became the main production programme. Export was directed largely to the countries of the former socialistic block.

Steam locomotive SkodaAfter 1989 a transformation period began for the Škoda concern to transform it from a state enterprise into a joint-stock company and to find not only the optimum production programme, but also to expand business contacts and find other markets than the preferred countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance which collapsed after 1989. Škoda Transportation started diversification of its production programme from the key industry of production of railway vehicles to include the sphere of public urban transport. Since the end of the 1990s there has been extensive modernisation of subway train units and increasising production of modern low-floor trams.

 Škoda Transportation enters the new millennium as a strong and dynamic manufacturer of a wide spectre of rail vehicles used not only in the European Union and in the USA, but throughout the world.

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