Skoda, the Volkswagen-owned Czech brand that produces true "people's cars," used to be the butt of every joke in Europe. But Skoda, one of the four oldest car brands in the world, has seen high success under tutelage and expects to break the 1 million units per year mark in just five years.
In 2007, Skoda anticipates selling more than 600,000 cars, Skoda CEO Detlef Wittig said in an interview with Automotive News Europe. Skoda was the VW Group's most profitable line in the first six months of '07, with more than four times the profit margin of the VW unit. Skoda has been owned by Volkswagen since 1990, when the former Soviet state - then Czechoslovakia - introduced privatization.
Wittig says that Skoda's success in emerging markets like India, Russia and China are responsible for a lot of the success, but the fresh product line has also seen great success in Europe, where it is often viewed as "what VW used to be," makers of well engineered cars for the masses. And in some ways, Skoda truly is what VW used to be: much of the newer features in Skodas was passed down from VWs.
No word on U.S. or Canadian sales, although Skoda is set to return to the Australian market this fall after a 24-year hiatus.